Company news

January 12, 2011

Indiana University researchers won a $7 million, four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project. Barbara Van Der Pol, an epidemiologist at the IU School of Medicine, and David Nelson, a molecular biologist at IU’s Bloomington campus, have been named co-investigators on IU's portion of the project, which has already been operating under the leadership of Dr. J. Dennis Fortenberry, professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. The researchers are studying at a microbial level sexually transmitted diseases in Hoosier men, which often lead to pain during urination and sex.

The School of Science at IUPUI won a $943,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to help minority students pursue careers in life sciences research. The money will fund the IUPUI Undergraduate Research Mentoring in the Biological Sciences Program, beginning this spring. Two-year fellowships will pay stipends to selected science students to conduct intensive research on “biosignaling,” the ability of cells to respond to their environments. The students also will attend seminars and presentations designed to help them toward a career in bioresearch. Lastly, the students will be paired with minority mentors who already hold graduate degrees.

Warsaw-based Zimmer Holdings Inc. Chief Executive David Dvorak said that demand for hip- and knee-replacement procedures will recover in the second half of 2011, when consumers have jobs and insurance again. "There will continue to be an impact until unemployment rates are reduced and [insurance] enrollment rates go back up," Dvorak told investors in a presentation at a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan in San Francisco, according to Reuters. "We're going in the right direction, but it's a slow recovery," he said. Sales of orthopedic implants, which Zmmer manufactures, have been especially hard-hit during the recent recession, as patients out of work or short of cash put off elective surgeries.

WellPoint Inc. expects its profit this year to exceed $6.60 a share, the company announced Monday at the J.P. Morgan health care conference in San Francisco. Such a performance would slightly beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts, who currently predict 2011 profit of $6.57 per share for the Indianapolis-based health insurer. Analysts expect the same amount of profit when WellPoint reports its 2010 results on Jan. 26, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. WellPoint provides health benefits to 33.5 million Americans, more than any other company. But the job losses of the past two years have kept its profits from growing.

An experimental drug being developed by Eli Lilly and Co. doesn’t appear to help with digestion as much as existing drugs, according to a staff report released Monday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to Bloomberg News, Lilly’s drug liprotamase, also known as Solpura, is designed to help patients suffering from poor digestion due to cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis or other conditions. Outside advisers to the FDA are scheduled to meet today in Maryland to review whether the drug should be approved for those patients. The panel of advisers will issue a non-binding recommendation to the FDA, which will make the final decision. Indianapolis-based Lilly got rights to Solpura in July when it purchased Massachusetts-based Alnara Pharmaceuticals Inc. for up to $380 million.