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.

A post-doctoral scientist can elect any of the following research arrangements upon mutual agreement with his or her academic mentor:

  1. All research performed at an academic institution in collaboration with a Lilly mentor.
  2. Research performed at an academic institution, with a limited number of short-term (less than six weeks) "visiting scientist" trips to Lilly.
  3. Research begins at academic institution and, after a pre determined time point, the post-doctoral scientist transitions full-time to a Lilly research site to complete the project under the LIFA agreement.

Note: For research arrangements 1 and 2, the post-doctoral scientist will be an employee of the academic institution. However, in research arrangement 3, the post-doctoral scientist will be an employee of the academic institution while at that location and then a Lilly fixed duration employee while at a Lilly site.

Research projects foster career development and are pre-competitive in nature; thus, publication 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.

Email for more information on the program.

Who Can Apply?

All applications must be submitted to Lilly by the office of the Dean for the applicant 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 May 31, 2016, and expected to be no more than four years prior to May 31, 2016
  • Obtain the commitment of an academic mentor who will serve as post-doctoral sponsor and will support throughout the application process
  • The post-doctoral position must not be contingent upon LIFA funding

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 his or her academic mentor are paired with a Lilly scientist who serves as an industry mentor. 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 opportunity to become part of Lilly’s community of current post-doctoral scientists and alumni

Grand Challenges

A primary driver for the Lilly Innovation Fellowship Award Program is to stimulate pharmaceutical innovation through training of the next generation of drug discovery and development scientists. In selection of a research topic, applicants are encouraged to address one of the significant problems, or "Grand Challenges," facing discovery or development of new pharmaceutical therapies. Proposals should be either directed at 1) key therapeutic area interests of Lilly, which include diabetes, oncology, neurodegenerative disease, chronic pain, and autoimmune disease or 2) fundamental scientific areas relevant to drug discovery and development, including: chemistry (excluding structure activity relationships), formulations, biopharmaceuticals, translational science, novel in vitro and in vivo assay technologies/modeling, drug safety, pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics or analytics/biostatistics and bioinformatics. Lilly Therapeutic and Functional Areas currently participating in the LIFA program include:

  • ADME/Drug Disposition
  • Analytical / Statistical Sciences
  • Autoimmune and Inflammatory Diseases
  • Biomolecule Science & Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Diabetes
  • Diagnostics
  • Drug Delivery & Devices
  • Health Outcomes Research
  • Informatics
  • Medicinal/Discovery Chemistry
  • Neuroscience (pain, neurodegeneration)
  • Oncology Pharmaceutical Sciences (biologics and small molecules)
  • Process Chemistry
  • Protein Production
  • Regulatory Sciences
  • Tailored Therapeutics (targeting therapies for the right patient with the right dose)
  • Toxicology