Lilly commits $92.5M to Purdue for drug research, scholarships

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Eli Lilly and Co. (IBJ photo)

In a significant expansion of their longstanding collaboration, Eli Lilly and Co. plans to give Purdue University $92.5 million for research on drug development and for undergraduate scholarships for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The two institutions announced the gifts Thursday morning, saying the funding will expand a longtime partnership.

The research program is a $50 million investment over five years to develop new models for delivering therapies to patients, with a focus on genetic medicine, pain drug delivery and targeted drug delivery using nanoparticles.

It’s an extension of an earlier five-year collaboration, announced in 2017, under which Lilly gave Purdue $50 million to learn more about the physiology of drug delivery and to develop technologies to improve delivery of pharmaceuticals for better patient outcomes.

The scholarship program will award full tuition to between 75 and 100 students each year for 10 years. The program, worth up to $42.5 million, will give priority to undergraduate students who are underrepresented in Purdue’s student population, have overcome socioeconomic or educational disadvantages or are among the first generation in their family to attend college.

The first scholarships will be offered for fall 2023. They will provide participating students internships at Lilly with preferred access and opportunities to compete for a role at the Indianapolis-based drugmaker following graduation, the two organizations said.

“Lilly is among Purdue’s most important partners, and this latest commitment reaffirms our longtime collaboration,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in written remarks. “… Lilly is investing in students very early in their education rather than waiting until late in their college careers–connecting to students before they even arrive on campus.”

Purdue and Lilly have a longstanding relationship, with close ties among their top leaders. Daniels worked as a senior executive as Lilly before serving eight years as Indiana governor.

Lilly’s CEO, David Ricks, earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Purdue in 1990. Today, Lilly employs nearly 2,500 Purdue graduates, more than from any other university.

“As a Purdue graduate, I am proud of the success the university has built and even more proud to see Lilly and Purdue team up to make both institutions better and better,” Ricks said in written remarks.

In recent years, Lilly has been investing hundreds of millions of dollars to broaden its research and development functions, and to invest heavily in partnerships with schools and outside biotech companies. The company has about 8,600 employees engaged in research and development.

The basic research by Purdue faculty is designed to  helps Lilly expedite the development of technologies and pharmaceuticals, improving the pace of getting therapies to patients who need them.

Over the last eight years, Lilly has introduced 18 new medicines, and said it aims to introduce four additional new medicines in the next 18 months.

Lilly and Purdue say they have made strategic commitments in recent years to strengthen expertise and programs in bioscience areas, including pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Earlier this year, Purdue established the William D. Young Institute for Advanced Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals, an interdisciplinary organization focused on reducing costs and expanding access to new drugs emerging from biotech research.

That followed a $250 million investment as part of the Purdue Moves strategic plan, which resulted in three university-wide interdisciplinary institutes: the Purdue Institutes of Drug Discovery; Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease; and Integrative Neuroscience, which have helped to attract leading faculty researchers in critical research areas.

Over the last five years, Lilly has committed more than$6 billion in pharmaceutical manufacturing globally, including $2.1 billion and up to 500 new jobs in the LEAP Technology Park in Boone County announced in May.

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