Bioethics Program

Lilly Bioethics Program

In 1999, Lilly was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to establish a standing bioethics committee to systematically identify, evaluate and communicate human bioethics issues. Subsequently, in 2008, we were one of the first companies to establish a comprehensive bioethics program to address the increasingly complex ethical challenges of global pharmaceutical research & development (R&D) in today's fast-paced biotechnology environment. (See "Animal Care and Use" for information about Lilly’s research animal ethics program.)


The purpose of the Program is to assist employees in identifying and addressing bioethical issues primarily related to human R&D. It is designed to promote ethical research, safeguard the integrity of the scientific process, and protect patients' well-being. (See "Ethics and Compliance" for information about other aspects of company ethics

Structure and Management

The Lilly Bioethics Program is an independent organizational unit reporting to the chief medical officer and includes a senior leader and full-time staff members with pharmaceutical industry expertise and specialized training in bioethics.

In addition to this full-time effort, employees from across the company participate in key bioethics program activities beyond their regular work responsibilities. These "extracurricular" activities include:

  • The Bioethics Advisory Committee, a cross-functional committee comprising senior leaders from across the company, and two external academic experts in the field of bioethics who offer guidance on projects and consultations;
  • The Lilly Bioethics Network, a virtual community of more than 150 Lilly employees interested in building their knowledge in bioethics through training opportunities and other activities sponsored by the Bioethics Program;
  • The Bioethics Specialist Team, a subgroup of the network comprising Lilly employees with specialized knowledge and skills in bioethics and an ongoing commitment both to develop in this area and to support the Lilly Bioethics Program through participation in activities and projects;
  • The Bioethics Leadership Academy, an internal, nine-month, experiential training program designed to establish a cohort of Lilly employees with distinct bioethics skills. See below for more about the academy.

Our approach to bioethics

A priority of the program is to provide resources to assist employees in their daily activities.

Lilly’s "Bioethics Framework for Human Biomedical Research"

The framework provides our researchers with guiding principles and ethics guidance regarding the development and conduct of studies involving human participants, and analysis and disclosure of study results. It incorporates company values, bioethics principles and guidance from widely recognized global guidelines, and scholarly literature.

The Bioethics Program employs the framework when conducting ethical analyses to address company-specific bioethics issues and case-specific consultation questions.

Lilly’s Bioethics Positions

Drawing on the Framework, the Lilly Bioethics Program develops bioethics positions on current and emerging topics that are relevant to pharmaceutical R&D.

Bioethics Consultations

Since 1999, the Bioethics Advisory Committee has offered a consulting service, providing a forum for Lilly employees to ask questions and seek advice regarding primarily pharmaceutical R&D, but questions also may touch on interrelated aspects of clinical ethics, business ethics, and organizational ethics. For more information, read "A Pharmaceutical Bioethics Consultation Service: Six-Year Descriptive Characteristics and Results of a Feedback Survey—an article about our experience with consultations and the benefits we’ve seen from the consultation service.

Engaging Employees in Bioethics

To ensure employees are well-versed in Lilly’s values and bioethics guidance, Lilly offers numerous activities throughout the year, including formal and informal training, lectures, seminars and case discussions. A unique training opportunity is the in-house Bioethics Leadership Academy.

Bioethics Leadership Academy

Employees who are selected to participate in the in-house academy dedicate a portion of their working time to bioethics training for nine months. Participants work through a curriculum, participate in bioethics program activities, and develop a project to help them respond to bioethics issues related to their functional role in the company and the pharmaceutical industry.

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