Beyond his many scholarly and scientific contributions, Kilmer also worked as Johnson & Johnson’s chief publicity officer for many years. In this role, he oversaw advertising and outreach, communicating with medical professionals and the public. Kilmer inaugurated and edited Red Cross Notes, a scientific journal for the medical profession, and Red Cross Messenger, a journal for retail pharmacists, which explained the philosophy behind Johnson & Johnson and the science behind its products, as well as featuring articles for pharmacists on how to increase their business.
Over the course of his career at Johnson & Johnson, Fred Kilmer’s work went so far as to improve upon the sterilization methods of trailblazers like physicians Joseph Lister (who discovered antiseptic surgery) and Robert Koch (who pioneered microbiology and steam sterilization). Kilmer was also an early advocate for women in science, hiring the company’s first woman scientist, a chemist, in 1907 and promoting pharmacy as a career for women. Over his nearly five-decade career at the company, Kilmer forever changed Johnson & Johnson, solidifying its dedication to education, as well as product innovation, and expanding its reach beyond surgery to the burgeoning field of public health. A student of history in his spare time, Kilmer also founded the company’s archives and museum and began Johnson & Johnson’s tradition of preserving its heritage of innovation and caring.