New institute aims to attract 100 research scientists to Indiana

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Biosciences Research Institute hopes to recruit as many as 100 research scientists in the next six years to generate new life sciences breakthroughs.
The $360 million initiative will be formally launched on Thursday by Gov. Mike Pence, executives of five major life sciences companies and officials of the state’s research universities. They will stage a press conference at 10 a.m. at the corporate headquarters of Eli Lilly and Co. in downtown Indianapolis.
As IBJ reported on May 6, the institute was awarded $25 million in start-up funding by the state Legislature. Now the group’s organizers hope to raise another $25 million in start-up funding from corporate and philanthropic donors over the next year or so.
That money will help the institute hire a “senior, world-class” scientist as its CEO and an initial research fellow, and help it start attracting industry funding for research projects, according to information released by BioCrossroads, the Indianapolis life sciences development group that has coordinated a year-long effort to create the institute.

“To be able to make this work, it’s got to be bold,” said Ry Wagner, the global new ventures and technology leader at Dow AgroSciences LLC, one of partners in the institute. He added that the institute will allow teams of scientists from both academia and industry to collaborate, which is more important than ever for achieving new innovations.

The institute drew an early endorsement from Pence, who added it to his platform while campaigning for governor last year, and from Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, who endorsed it in a speech in October.

In addition to Lilly, the corporations involved in launching the institute are Biomet Inc., Cook Medical Inc., Dow AgroSciences LLC, Indiana University Health, and Roche Diagnostics Corp. Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame are also participants.

By the end of 2019, the institute aims to recruit as many as 10 research fellows—star academics from around the nation—each of whom would likely bring a research team of eight to 10 scientists. All told, the institute could employ 100 scientists.

The funds to recruit such coveted teams of scientists would come from a $310 million endowment the institute hopes to raise between 2016 and 2019. Those scientists would then compete for industry and government research contracts to sustain their work.

The institute will aim to focus its research on key public health issues affecting Hoosiers, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and nutrition. The institute hopes its research produces new diagnostic tools to help identify patients in need of treatment, data analysis tools to help researchers and, longer-term, new drugs or ag-tech products.

Those breakthroughs could be commercialized by partner companies or spun out into new companies.

Once the institute is a decade old and fully matured, it would likely have an annual budget of $31 million, according to BioCrossroads. It expects roughly $14 million per year to come from its endowment, about $10 million from industry-sponsored research and about $7 million from federal grants for research.

An endowment and budget of that size would rank the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute among similar institutes around the country. Still, the initiative would be dwarfed by several state governments—such as California, Ohio and Texas—that have put more than $1 billion each to stimulate research and commercialization in the science and technology fields.

However, Darren Carroll, the vice president of corporate business development for Lilly, said getting the right people working on the effort will be more important than having the largest pot of money.

“I’m not sure that’s what you do when you have a healthy industry,” he said.


  • Istitute Concept Laudable but Flawed
    Indiana's effort to increase top tier life sciences research capacity is laudable but the proposed vehicle of a free-standing research institute is fundamentally flawed. The origins, funding, structure, and goals of the Indiana Bioscience Research Institute are eerily similar to a Michigan initiative in the mid-1980s that was unsuccessful. Michigan took a bold step and founded biotechnology, robotics, and materials processing research institutes. Recommended by a panel of well-intentioned corporate, state, and university leaders, the Michigan institutes had very similar goals, structure, goals, and initial funding to Indiana's Bioscience Institutes. All faced multiple challenges throughout their existence. World-class researchers were unwilling to join because they perceived the institutes as risky ventures. Despite initial state and national corporate interest, sufficient corporate research funding never materialized. None of the institutes achieved projected goals for endowments. Michigan's leadership underestimated the reluctance of foundations and donors to support research institutes. Federal funding was also problematic. The missions of federal funding agencies did not mesh well with any of the Institute's applied research agendas. Michigan's experience does not bode well for Indiana. What is Indiana doing differently to insure a better outcome?

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I still don't understand how the FBI had any right whatsoever to investigate this elderly collector. Before the Antiquities Act it was completely legal to buy, trade or collect Native American artifacts. I used to see arrow heads, axes, bowls, corn grinders at antique shops and flea markets for sale and I bought them myself. But that was in the late 60's and early 70's. And I now know that people used to steal items from sites and sell them. I understand that is illegal. But we used to find arrow heads and even a corn grinder in our back yard when I was a child. And I still have those items today in my small collection.

  2. I lived in California and they had many of the things noted in the proposed suggestions from the "Blue Ribbon Panel". California is near financial collapse now. Let's not turn the great state of Indiana into a third world dump like California.

  3. The temporary closure of BR Avenue will get a lot of attention. But, one thing reported by the IndyStar really stands out to me, and is extraordinarily depressing: “Police also have agreed to crack down on noise violations, traffic violations and public intoxication.” In other words, the police have generously agreed to do their jobs (temporarily, at least), instead of just standing around waiting for someone to call 911. When is someone in this department going to get off their fat arse (looking at you, Chief), get their minds out of 1975-era policing and into 2014, and have his department engage in pro-active work instead of sitting around waiting for someone to be shot? Why in the hell does it take 7 people getting shot in one night in one of the city’s biggest tourist destinations, to convince the police (reluctantly, it would appear) that they actually need to do their f’n jobs? When is the Chief going to realize that there’s a huge, direct, proven correlation between enforcing the law (yes, all laws, especially those affecting quality of life) and preventing larger crimes from occurring? Is it racial BS? Is that what this extraordinary reluctance is all about? Is the department and the city terrified that if they do their jobs, they might offend someone? Whom, exactly? Will the victims of violence, murder, assault, rape, robbery, and theft be offended? Will the citizens who have to tolerate their deteriorating quality of life be offended? Will the businesses who see their customers flee be offended? Or, is it simple ignorance (maybe the Chief hasn’t heard about NYC’s success in fighting crime - it’s only the biggest g*&#am city in the country, after all)? Either way, Chief, if you don’t want to do your job, then step down. Let someone who actually wants the job take it.

  4. I thought Indiana had all the funding it needed for everything. That's why the state lottery and casino gambling were allowed, as the new tax revenue would take care of everything the state wanted to do.The recommendations sound like they came from California. Better think about that. What is the financial condition of that state?

  5. I was a fan of WIBC in the morning, Steve was the only WIBC host that I listened too, he gave the news with so much flare that I enjoyed listening to him on my way to work. Katz is no Steve. Sadly, I will not be listening to WIBC anymore.