Elixir Factor Podcast

The Elixir Factor, Lilly’s podcast hosted by Joe Kim, senior advisor of clinical operations and data registry, explores the factors that inspire bold advances in science, innovation and the resilience required to change history. Tune in to hear how the Lilly research and development (R&D) team collaborates with partners in advocacy, technology, academia and policy to seek cures or solutions for some of the most difficult diseases. There is always a way to get better at what you are doing – simply say "yes" to the next step. Here, you can say yes via your preferred podcasting platform: 

Featured Episodes: Alzheimer's

Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease (DIAD) is a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that causes memory loss and dementia in people typically in their 30s to 50s. The disease affects less than 1% of the total population and is devastating to those who are impacted by it, including their families. Joe talks to Dr. Randy Bateman, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight distinguished professor of neurology, director and principal investigator of DIAN-TU, and Dr. Roy Yaari, senior medical advisor of neurodegeneration at Lilly, about DIAD, the factors that were considered in the design of the DIAN-TU Study, and Alzheimer's research in clinical trials. Joe also talks to patient advocate Daisy Duarte about her family experience with DIAD and why she advocates for Latinos Against Alzheimer’s.


Brain health is one of the most urgent issues for our health care system, our economy and our country. Evidence is strong that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by making conscious lifestyle changes like regular physical activity and participating in social engagements. Joe talks to Brooks Kenny, executive director of WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s, about the factors that inspired the launch of The Be Brain Powerful™ Campaign and its goals to change the path for both women and brain health. Joe also talks to Lilly’s Vera Maljkovic, principal researcher and clinical psychologist in cognition and behavior, and Jen Zimmer, senior medical advisor in Alzheimer’s research, about how we measure the health of our brains, the effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain and what it can mean for cognitive decline.


Alzheimer’s disease is one of the biggest unmet medical needs of our time. Lilly has been committed to Alzheimer’s research for more than 30 years, and continues to remain determined to find solutions for this horrible disease. In 2015, Lilly provided a grant to Academy Award–nominated filmmaker and health care advocate James Keach to make the documentary Turning Point, which granted him access into “the cave” as the Lilly team learned the fate of the Alzheimer’s Expedition 3 study. In this episode, Joe talks with James and Ron DeMattos, Lilly’s chief scientific officer for neurobiologics. Hear what factors inspired the making of Turning Point and the story of the Lilly scientists on the front lines of Alzheimer’s research, capturing both the disappointment and resilience of those working to disrupt the disease. 


New in Season 2

Good science drives innovation. One of the most critical ingredients for an innovation-friendly environment is a strong intellectual property (IP) framework. It allows for collaboration, partnership and larger investments that provide an opportunity to scale research, which in turn can provide a great opportunity for success, and hopefully advance the development of medicines for patients. The U.S. is the global leader of biopharmaceutical innovation because its IP system promotes competition, ensuring each player excels at their role and is incentivized to take risks and share information throughout the process. Joe talks to Dr. John Stewart IV, professor of surgery and physician executive for oncology sciences at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, about the factors that have influenced his oncology research and how he has been able to continue this research through partnerships and policies that support IP. Joe also talks to Tonya Combs, vice president and deputy general patent counsel of IP procurement at Lilly, about the drug discovery process, the Bayh-Dole Act and the biopharmaceutical research ecosystem during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health literacy is about a person’s ability not just to read, but to understand and act on, health information to help optimize health outcomes. Patients are more responsible for their own health education than ever before. Clear health communication is one of the easiest ways to help those with limited health literacy. During this global COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an overflow of conflicting health information. In this episode, Joe talks to Dr. Linda Neuhauser, clinical professor of community health and human development at UC Berkeley, School of Public Health, and co-principal investigator of health research for action, and Lori Hall, advisor of global health literacy at Lilly. They discuss the factors that contribute to the complexity of health information, health care, concepts that have been used by scientists and the media in describing our understanding of the pandemic, and their hope in science to lead us to answers.


The promise of science to change people’s lives has never been greater. Recent progress in understanding biology, including the sequencing of the human genome, has led to new insights – allowing scientists more power and precision to treat diseases, including cancer. As the understanding of cancer grows, scientists have found that it’s actually not a single disease but a collection of diseases that are driven by various causes or genetic breakdowns. Joe talks to Pete Nicholas, co-founder of Boston Scientific, about his diagnosis of a very aggressive form of non-small cell lung cancer. Joe also talks to Anne White, president of Lilly Oncology, about the factors that came into play to redesign a traditional oncology research-and-development organization into a biotech, and how this new mindset has the potential to develop more medicines for people living with cancer.


What is the body’s largest organ, coming in a variety of colors and weighing in at about 6 pounds? The skin. It’s one of the most familiar aspects of our bodies and our health. Skin-related diseases are more than skin-deep and can have devastating effects on people’s lives. An estimated 10 million people in the U.S. live with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.

Here, Joe talks with two of Lilly's own scientists, Dr. Lotus Mallbris and Alison Budelsky, about the unmet needs for patients with immunological conditions. Hear what factors influence dermatology and immunology research, and why diversity of thought is critical in this space. Joe also talks to Julie Maxwell about the impact that atopic dermatitis has had on her life.


It takes optimism, mental discipline and collaboration to deliver life-changing innovation to patients. External collaboration is key to driving new solutions in the world of digital health, which ultimately helps scientists and researchers uncover new way to measure and understand specific diseases or illnesses. The best solutions come from those who truly understand the patient experience, or the “problem.” In this episode, host Joe Kim talks to Yan Fossat, principal investigator of the digital health research lab at Klick Health and one of the winners of Lilly’s first Innovative Challenge, “Transforming IBD Care: Better Disease Monitoring, Management and Care for People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.” Hear what factors inspired Yan and Dr. Michael Docktor to design HealthVoyager, a pediatric virtual reality app for people suffering from IBD – a devastating illness reported to affect approximately 3 million people in the U.S. alone. Joe also talks to Jim Parshall, advisor of digital device innovation, about Lilly’s approach to external innovation, and what it took to get an innovative challenge off the ground.

Disclaimer: Please note that Lilly does not own HealthVoyager, the pediatric virtual reality app for people suffering from IBD.

Our First Season 

There is great hope in the idea that a better understanding of gene mutations, RNA and RNAi could lead to possible treatments and cures for some of the most difficult diseases, such as ALS. However, the path to finding a cure requires ongoing investments in innovation and collaboration across academia, government, nonprofits and the pharmaceutical industry. No one understands this concept better than patient advocates. In our final episode of The Elixir Factor's first season, Joe talks to a powerhouse couple, Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya, about I AM ALS. Hear what factors inspired them to build I AM ALS, a patient-centric movement raising both awareness and funds for ongoing ALS research. Joe also talks to Lilly scientist Andrew Adams about the process of RNA/RNAi interference and the development of therapies to correct the consequences of gene mutations. To learn more, visit I AM ALS online.


Clinical trials are essential to the development and testing of new therapies. Developing a clinical trial is an incredibly challenging process that usually involves a lot of different perspectives. The only way to build simpler, more convenient and patient-friendly trials is to include people's real-life experiences at research sites. For this episode, Joe talks to one of our own Lilly experts, Megan Laker, about the patient experience and design innovation hub. Hear what factors inspired Megan to create CoDESIGN. Joe also talks to patient advocate Shane Lee about his experience in the CoDESIGN simulation as a patient living with lupus.


Our purpose here at Lilly is to unite caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. It is often the personal stories and our own experiences that ultimately inspire bold advances in science and innovation. The path to recovery from some of the most difficult diseases, such as cancer, needs to include more than the right medicine or treatment. Here, Joe talks to Terri Wingham, founder and CEO of A Fresh Chapter (AFC). Hear what factors encouraged her to start this nonprofit organization, which facilitates life-changing volunteer and leadership experiences to empower people who have been impacted by cancer. Joe also talks to Lilly scientist Scott Hynes and patient advocate Linnea Olson about their participation in AFC's Peru Odyssey program.


Diabetes is a disease that requires management 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People living with diabetes must calculate complex mental math when deciding how much insulin to dose, while also taking into consideration the effects of their exercise, food intake and even stress levels. Digital technology is changing health care, which brings with it the hope of new solutions such as wearables, apps and mobile devices. For this episode, Joe talks to patient advocate and founder of #openAPS, Dana Lewis. Hear what factors motivated her to seek out digital tools to manager her type 1 diabetes and ultimately create an automated DIY closed-loop system. Joe also talks to Marie Schiller, who leads R&D efforts in global product development for Lilly’s Connected Care and Insulins, about the key to finding new and better solutions for diabetes care. 


Real world evidence (RWE) is a powerful tool that can be used to provide insights on diseases, medicines, patient populations and health care practices. RWE also plays an important role in drug discovery and is used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical industry. A strategic priority of the FDA is to leverage real world evidence to improve regulatory decisions. In this episode, Joe talks to Brande Yaist, senior director of global patient outcomes and real world evidence at Lilly, about why getting it right is so important. Joe also talks to Dr. Adrian Hernandez, vice dean of clinical research at Duke University, about an exciting new initiative with Google called Project Baseline and why he is hopeful that the collection of RWE in this new digital era will allow us to be more forward-thinking about future health problems. 

Learn more about Lilly's R&D efforts here


At the root of most research is data. When data have been collected and analyzed in a meaningful and accurate way, they a reused as evidence. Real world evidence, simply defined, is health information collected outside of a randomized clinical trial. In this episode, Joe talks to Erin Moore, a patient advocate and mother of five. When Erin’s son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, she considered it her job to learn all that she could about it to offer a more personalized approach to treating him and giving him the best chance at a good health outcome. Hear what factors motivated her to start collecting real world evidence and to continue doing so for almost 10 years. Her resilience is inspiring. 


Pain is a uniquely complex problem. As many of us know, pain does not discriminate. It’s personal. It’s subjective, and it affects everyone differently. Pain is also an incredibly challenging area to research because of how subjective it can be. Investigational programs for innovative pain treatments have one of the highest clinical-trial failure rates of any major disease state. Now, new advances in digital health may offer scientists the ability to gain more insight on the course of pain. Here, Joe talks to Seth Ginsberg, a health policy advocate and entrepreneur. Hear what factors led him to co-found CreakyJoints, the first online patient community for people suffering from arthritis. Joe also talks to one our of own Lilly scientists, Dr. Mark Mintun, about why pain has proven to be such a challenging area to research. 


Caregiving can be one of the most stressful, emotional and physically exhausting jobs there is. Nearly half of all caregivers who provide help to other adults do so for someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The role of the caregiver also goes far beyond basic day-to-day care. They are also the "voice of the patient" and play a very important role in future solutions. In this episode, Joe talks to a full-time Lilly employee and full-time caregiver, Beth Stafford. Hear what factors motivated her to seek the help of Denise Saxman, care consultant at the Alzheimer’s Association, during her caregiving journey. Joe also talks to Denise about ways to help caregivers and the importance of recognizing them as part of the equation in health care, and in drug discovery and development.


Why is research important and why do people participate? Finding new and improved medicines is only possible with the help of brave people who participate in clinical trials. In this episode, Joe talks with Lilly Stairs, head of growth and partnership at Savvy Cooperative. Hear what factors caused her transformation from ordinary citizen to passionate patient advocate. Joe and Lilly also debunk the myths associated with clinical trials with Lilly’s own Leigh Anne Naas, a patient experience and design innovation community leader.


Most of us know a person impacted by cancer. Yet while cancer research has been going on for centuries, we still don’t have a cure. Two major advances, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, have led oncologists to the practice of precision medicine. In this episode, Joe talks to T.J. Sharpe, a cancer survivor and patient advocate. Hear what factors led him to research an alternative treatment plan for stage IV melanoma versus a standard treatment plan, which offered him only months to live. Joe also talks with two passionate Lilly scientists, Dr. Kim Blackwell and Dr. Levi Garraway, who lead the way in oncology research and development, specifically in the area of precision medicine. 


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Clinical Trials

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Say 'Yes' to Clinical Research

Improving Patient Experiences