Lilly Innovation Fellowship Award Program

Initiated in 2012, the Lilly Innovation Fellowship Award (LIFA) program was created to identify and foster exceptional post-doctoral scientists pursuing ground breaking research projects. The prestigious LIFA program pairs a post-doctoral scientist with their academic mentor and a Lilly scientist, who serves as an industry mentor, to advance an innovative research proposal developed by the fellow. The goal of the LIFA program is to focus on research topics or "Grand Challenges" that will drive innovation in scientific areas of greatest strategic interest to Eli Lilly and Company, while remaining general enough to foster disruptive innovation. Once a post-doctoral scientist is selected by Lilly, they will typically work at both the academic institution and at a Lilly research site, with access to Lilly scientists and technologies, to advance their research plan.

Research projects foster career development and are pre-competitive in nature; thus, publication is both encouraged and expected. Career development resources and other benefits are provided, including up to four years of salary, benefits and limited travel support to attend scientific meetings while participating in the program.

Consideration for participation in the program is currently limited to invited academic research centers around the world.

For more information, click on one of the boxes below, or email LIFA@Lilly.com

 
 
Who Can Apply?

The LIFA program is by invitation only to selected academic research centers around the world. All applications must be submitted to Lilly by the office of the Dean for their institution. Interested applicants should contact their Dean for further information.

To qualify for consideration for the program, applicants must:

  • Have a doctoral degree (Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent) that is awarded by August 1, 2014, and no more than six years prior to August 1, 2014
  • Must obtain the commitment of an academic mentor who will serve as their post-doctoral sponsor and will support them in the application process
  • The post-doctoral position must not be contingent upon LIFA funding

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Program Benefits

Recognizing that many post-doctoral training programs have not always prepared young scientists for the full spectrum of job opportunities available to them (academic, industry, biotech/start up, government, not-for-profit research), Lilly has designed this program to broaden post-doctoral scientists’ training experience.

Key to the success of this program will be the establishment of a true academic-industry training partnership where the post-doctoral scientist and their academic mentor are paired with a Lilly scientist who serves as an industry mentor. The post-doctoral scientist will typically work at both the academic institution and at a Lilly research site, with access to Lilly scientists and technologies to advance the innovative research project proposed by the fellow. The research projects are designed to be “pre-competitive" to encourage publication and presentation of resulting data.

Program benefits include:

  • Full post-doctoral salary and benefits for up to four years
  • Limited post-doctoral travel support to attend scientific conferences
  • Annual payment to the university to support the post-doctoral scientist’s training
  • Relocation support when moving from the university to work at a Lilly research site
  • Participation in Lilly post-doctoral scientist development programs
  • Interaction with Lilly’s global scientific network and become part of Lilly’s community of current post-doctoral scientists and alumni

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Grand Challenges

Eli Lilly and Company is proud to present the top five 2014 Grand Challenges. These Grand Challenges and some associated "critical unanswered questions" were crafted to align Lilly’s overall scientific strategy with future LIFA postdoctoral research opportunities. These critical unanswered questions should not be treated as preferred research topics, but instead as specific examples of research areas that connect to the Lilly Grand Challenges.

  1. TO ESTABLISH CLINICAL EFFICACY AND SAFETY EARLIER IN THE DRUG DISCOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
    • How can we rapidly validate human disease targets and their associated risks?
    • Are there animal models of pain or cognition that reliably and predictably translate to humans?
    • Can adaptive judgment-based systems be applied to data assessments for a given target or a clinical study?
  2. TO DISCOVER MECHANISMS THAT IDENTIFY THE RIGHT MEDICINE FOR THE RIGHT PATIENT
    • Why do antidepressants fail to work in 30% of patients with major depressive disorder? Can these patients be easily identified?
    • Which technologies (e.g., diagnostics, imaging, analytical chemistry, ‘big data’ analysis) best inform the choice of treatment in specific disease states?
    • What is the role of sub-chondral bone quality in the pain symptoms of arthritis?
    • What role does post-synaptic signaling play in the reorganization of a functional neuron-muscle junction during the course of injury and aging?
    • Does macrophage polarization play a role in muscle repair and regeneration?
  3. TO DELIVER EXCEPTIONAL PATIENT OUTCOMES
    • How can micro-metastatic cancer be detected?
    • How can we quickly decide whether treatments, combinations, or discontinued drugs have delivered the desired outcomes?
    • What are some untreated factors or pathways that lead to heart attack in at-risk patients who are taking standard-of-care medications?
  4. TO SIMPLIFY LARGE-SCALE CHEMISTRY AND PROTEIN PRODUCTION AND MINIMIZE ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
    • How can flexible manufacturing strategies be applied to deliver “green" synthetic processes?
    • What protein expression methods have yet to be developed? What are the hurdles to large scale biomolecule production?
    • What strategies can be used to improve the reliability of scale-down models and predictive tools to reduce cost and time of developing manufacturing processes for therapeutic proteins?
    • How can more robust alternative (non-mammalian) expression systems be developed for the production of proteins?
  5. TO TARGET AND DELIVER BIOLOGICS AND SMALL MOLECULE THERAPEUTICS PRECISELY AND SAFELY
    • What strategies could help make large biomolecules orally bioavailable and/or brain penetrant?
    • Can advanced analytics and informatics provide approaches to enable simultaneous optimization of molecules across multiple parameters?
    • What are some next generation formulation approaches to efficiently deliver potent oral drugs that have non-ideal physicochemical properties?
    • Can we build on directed delivery methods such as antibody drug conjugates (ADCs)?

Lilly Therapeutic and Functional Areas currently participating in the LIFA program include:

  • ADME/Drug Disposition
  • Analytical Sciences
  • Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases
  • Biomolecule Science & Engineering
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Diabetes
  • Diagnostics
  • Drug Delivery & Devices
  • Health Outcomes Research
  • Informatics
  • Medicinal/Discovery Chemistry
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Neuroscience (pain, neurodegeneration, psychiatric disorders)
  • Oncology
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences (biologics and small molecules)
  • Process Chemistry
  • Protein Production
  • Regulatory Sciences
  • Statistical Sciences
  • Tailored Therapeutics
  • Toxicology
  • Urology

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