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Robert P. Luciano

  • Born: October 9, 1933, New York, New York

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0183
Interview Date: June 25, 1999
Location: Madison, New Jersey
Interviewers: David C. Brock and Leo B. Slater
No. of pages: 28

  Abstract of Interview

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.


1954 B.B.A., Business, City College of New York
1958 J.D. University of Michigan

  Professional Experience

Royall Koegel and Rogers (Rogers and Wells)

1958 - 1966 Senior tax associate

Ciba-Geigy Corporation

1966 - 1968 Attorney, CIBA Corporation

Ciba-Geigy Corporation

1968 - 1970 Assistant Secretary, CIBA Corporation

Ciba-Geigy Corporation

1970 - 1971 Assistant General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs, CIBA Pharmaceuticals

Ciba-Geigy Corporation

1971 - 1973 Vice President, Planning and Administration

Ciba-Geigy Corporation

1973 - 1975 Vice President, marketing, CIBA Pharmaceuticals

Ciba-Geigy Corporation

1975 - 1977 President, Pharmaceuticals Division

American Cyanamid Company

1977 - 1978 President, Lederle Laboratories Division

Schering-Plough Corporation

1978 - 1979 Senior Vice President, Administration

Schering-Plough Corporation

1979 - 1980 Executive Vice President, Pharmaceuticals

Schering-Plough Corporation

1980 - 1982 President and Chief Operating Officer

Schering-Plough Corporation

1982 - 1984 President and Chief Executive Officer

Schering-Plough Corporation

1984 - 1986 President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board

Schering-Plough Corporation

1986 - 1996 Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board

Schering-Plough Corporation

1996 - 1998 Chairman of the Board of Directors


1988 Candlelight Award, Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey
1989 Gold Award, The Wall Street Transcript
1989 Bronze Award, Financial World's CEO of the Decade Award Program
1989 President's Award, Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York
1989 New Jersey Business "Top 10 Most Admired Executives"
1990 Distinguished Business Leaders' Award, Monmouth College
1990 Corporate Recognition Award, National Puerto Rican Coalition
1991 Alexander Hamilton Economic Award
1991 Paul L. Troast Award, New Jersey Business and Industry Association
1991 Townsend Harris Medal, Alumni Association of the City College of New York
1991 Science/Technology Medal, Research and Development Council of New Jersey
1992 Distinguished Service Award, American Liver Foundation
1992 Distinguished Citizen Award, Boy Scouts of America
1992 Hall of Fame Award, Tri-County Scholarship Fund
1992 Ireland United States Council for Commerce and Industry's Council Award for Outstanding Achievement
1992 New Jersey Monthly Magazine's New Jersey Business Leader of the Year Award
1992 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Drew University
1993 "Freedom of the Human Spirit Award," International Center for the Disabled
1994 Baruch College Alumni Association Outstanding Achievement Award
1994 Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, University College Dublin of the National Ireland University
1994 American Paralysis Association Special Award
1994 New Jersey Battered Women's Association, Professional Leadership Citation
1995 Baruch College Distinguished Alumnus Award

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Beginnings 1

Growing up in New York City. Attending rapid-advancement program. Enrolling at City College of New York. Getting married in senior year of college. Serving in Army at the Pentagon. Attending law school.

Early Career 3

Practicing law in New York. Accepting position in law department at Ciba Corporation. Expansion in pharmaceutical industry. Movement into business management. Relationship between management and research. Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. Research productivity. Leaving Ciba-Geigy for American Cyanamid.

Career at Schering-Plough 12

Leaving American Cyanamid. Joining Schering-Plough. Becoming CEO of Schering-Plough. Management issues. Relationship with Biogen. Charles Weissmann. Interferon. Buying DNAX. Tolerating failures in research and development. Growth of sales of interferon.

Conclusion 21

Importance of hiring quality people. Research at Schering-Plough. Future of innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. Government regulations. Success of small firms.

Index 26

  About the Interviewer

David C. Brock

David C. Brock is a senior research fellow with the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. As a historian of science and technology, he specializes in the history of semiconductor science, technology, and industry; the history of instrumentation; and oral history. Brock has studied the philosophy, sociology, and history of science at Brown University, the University of Edinburgh, and Princeton University.

In the policy arena Brock recently published Patterning the World: The Rise of Chemically Amplified Photoresists, a white-paper case study for the Center’s Studies in Materials Innovation. With Hyungsub Choi he is preparing an analysis of semiconductor technology roadmapping, having presented preliminary results at the 2009 meeting of the Industry Studies Association.

Leo B. Slater

Leo Slater was the 2001–2002 John C. Haas Fellow and a senior research historian at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, where he also served as Director of Historical Services from 1997 to 2000. A former research chemist at the Schering-Plough Research Institute, he received his doctorate in History from Princeton University in 1997.

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