Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Robert P. Luciano

  • 1999-Jun-25

Robert Luciano begins the interview with a brief description of his early years in New York City, New York. Luciano attended New York public schools, and in sixth grade was selected to join a rapid advancement program for gifted children. After graduating from high school, Luciano attended City College of New York, receiving a bachelor's degree in business in 1954. Luciano then entered the Army, serving in the Pentagon. When he returned from military service, Luciano attended law school at the University of Michigan, earning his J. D. in 1958. Luciano returned to New York, where he practiced law for eight years. He accepted a position in Ciba Corporation's General Counsel Department in 1966. Quickly rising through the ranks at Ciba, he moved into the company's business environment. Luciano was Vice President of Marketing when Ciba and Geigy merged, and by 1975, Luciano was President of Ciba-Geigy's pharmaceuticals division. His skills as a manager helped assuage the difficulties between management and research within the company. After a year with American Cyanamid Company, Luciano joined Schering-Plough Corporation in 1978 as the Senior Vice President of Administration. Luciano sought to increase understanding in the pharmaceutical industry that cutting-edge research programs sometimes produce failure and that tolerance for failure was necessary. In the late 1970s, Schering-Plough entered the world of biotechnology, buying 13 percent of Biogen. Soon after, Biogen scientist Charles Weissmann first cloned interferon. Luciano became CEO of Schering-Plough in 1982, the same year that Schering-Plough bought DNAX, another biotechnology company. Luciano concludes the interview with thoughts on research and development at Schering-Plough, his views on government regulation, and a discussion of the future of the smaller pharmaceutical companies.

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