Scientific Areas of Interest

What's under the microscope, and beyond.

The discovery of new medicines is about being relentless. You will gain access to Lilly development team with decades of experience dedicated to exploring every avenue necessary.

We never stop searching for:

  • Medicines that are novel, tailored and differentiated from the current standard of care.
  • New ways to address unmet medical needs.
  • Treatments, therapies, technologies and devices that generate better outcomes for payers, providers, prescribers and patients.

And it's all done with a true sense of urgency, ensuring our medicines reach patients as soon as possible.

Neither the content nor any other service presented here is intended to be relied on for medical diagnosis or treatment.

  • Oncology

    At Lilly Oncology, we seek enabling therapeutic development platforms, breakthrough monotherapy programs, and opportunities for rational combinations with our existing pipeline.

    Immuno-oncology approaches: Therapies focused on neoantigens, T-cell redirection, novel checkpoint agents and disruptive immunotherapy targets/platforms

    Tumor metabolism pathway modulators: Agents targeting the tumor microenvironment and interplay between the microenvironment, immune system and tumor energetics

    Novel approaches targeting tumor dependencies in molecularly enriched populations

    Modulating epigenetic pathways

    Click here Oncology for PDF version.

  • Neuroscience

    Neurodegenerative Diseases

    • Novel therapeutic approaches for disease modification in neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
    • Novel treatments that address the symptoms of neurodegenerative disease including psychosis, cognitive impairment, agitation, mood and sleep
    • Blood-based biomarkers for early detection of amyloid-positive dementia
    • Wearable technologies and smartphone applications for early detection of Alzheimer's disease initiation and progression

    Pain and Migraine

    • Novel approaches to treat chronic neuropathic, inflammatory and visceral pain
    • Migraine prophylaxis

    Click Neuroscience for PDF version.

  • Diabetes and Diabetes-Related Complications

    Insulins and Glucagon:

    • Next-generation insulins (basal, ultra-rapid, high-concentration, thermostable)
    • Glucose-responsive/sensing insulin
    • Soluble glucagon


    • Novel GLP-1 and dual-acting GLP-1 mimetics and novel combinations with potential for CV benefits


    • Novel approaches relevant to the development of an artificial pancreas
    • Oral peptide/protein delivery platforms and therapeutics
    • Breakthrough diabetes device technology

    Diabetic Complications and Novel Disease Modifiers:

    • Diabetes regression and durability of response
      • Pathways and mechanisms that impact breakthrough weight loss (e.g., >10%) and insulin sensitization
    • Diabetic kidney disease Pathways and mechanisms related to inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (hemodynamic), remodeling and alteration of tissue metabolism

    NAFLD/NASH Intersecting pathways of lipid metabolism, insulin sensitization and weight loss

    __CV: Diabetic dyslipidemia with MACE benefits agents that have beneficial effects on multiple lipid/vascular risk factors such as triglyceride, LDL-C and Lp(a)

    __CV: Heart failure HFrEF, HFpEF, cardiomyopathes novel mechanisms that can be used in conjunction with the existing standard of care. Areas of focus include targets that impinge on cardiac substrate utilization and metabolism, remodeling and vascular health

    Novel Platforms:

    • RNAi, translational modulators, cell-based therapy (e.g., for T1DM, heart failure)and microbiome modulators

    Other Areas:

    • Type 1 Diabetes
    • Endocrine disorders (e.g., growth disorders and major unmet medical needs)
    • Neuropathic pain (intersects with our Pain TA)
    • Novel mechanisms: Especially in the private sector, new/emerging companies and/or mechanisms that are not addressed above
    • Differentiation is key. Highest priority is given to validated 'Glucose-Plus' agents (i.e., drugs that reduce HbA1c and elicit >10% weight loss and/or improvements in other CV risk factors); essentially therapeutics that can mimic bariatric surgery-like effects

    Out of Scope:

    • Insulin secretagogues with no added metabolic benefits
    • Wound healing
    • Gastroparesis
    • Anticoagulants
    • Acute myocardial infarction/ischemia-reperfusion therapies
    • Acute/ischemic stroke
    • Arrhythmia
    • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Immunology

    The immunology platform’s mission is to address unmet medical needs with best-in-disease or best-in-class medicines and to deliver unparalleled customer experiences—with a strong focus on small molecule and biologics in the following indications:

    Indications in Scope:

    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Psoriasis
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus
    • Crohn’s disease
    • Ulcerative colitis
    • Ankylosing spondylitis
    • Psoriatic arthritis
    • Lupus nephritis
    • Atopic dermatitis

    Technologies in Scope:

    • Interested in small molecule NMEs with biologic efficacy, and no increased safety risk
    • Microbiome
    • Antibodies that have a durable MOA with a greatly improved clinical efficacy over standard of care
    • Nanoparticles for use in tolerance

    Out of Scope:

    • Integrin targets
    • Biosimilars

    Click Immunology for the PDF version.

  • Emerging Technology and Innovation

    The Emerging Technology and Innovation team complements therapeutic area-specific external research efforts by providing distinct geographic coverage plus access to novel pathways and new therapeutic modalities. We specialize in connecting partners to Lilly expertise and deploying flexible funding models. The team is comprised of experienced drug discovery and development scientists based in Cambridge, MA,(external research hub established 2016), Indianapolis, IN and Europe, with additional members in Japan.

    New opportunities of interest include pan-therapeutic and adjacent disease areas (as well as added support for Lilly’s core therapeutic areas). We are committed to collaboration with premier universities, investigators and companies around the world to advance innovation, enhance Lilly’s pipeline and improve patient outcomes.

    Novel Biologic Pathways: Emphasis on those with multi-therapeutic area potential and emerging novel targets.

    • Examples include: ribosomal control of protein expression, micro-RNA; exosome biology; epigenetics

    Disruptive Technologies:

    • New therapeutic modalities (including but not limited to, oligonucleotide-based approaches, gene editing, gene therapy, microbiome, cell-based approaches)
    • Novel approaches to “drug” difficult targets (e.g., small molecule RNA inhibitors, cell-penetrant peptide platforms, protein degradation/stabilizers)

    Adjacent Disease Areas:

    • Examples include: fibrosis, kidney disease, other disorders of immune function, broader neurological conditions

    Alternative Funding and Partnering Models: This team has expertise in—and access to—flexible funding models for advancing exciting science.

    • Strategic limited partnerships in world-class venture funds. These funds work with scientific and business leaders to advance breakthrough innovation. A key strategy involves early development funding and co-funding opportunities (emphasis on leveraging Lilly’s Chorus* organization)
    • Direct equity investments in selected biotechnology companies
    • “Build-to-buy” investments
    • Other “shared-risk” drug discovery and early development relationships
    • Chorus* is a fully integrated early stage drug development team whose scope includes IND-enabling preclinical studies through Phase 2 development. Chorus specializes in delivery of rapid, efficient and cost–effective clinical proof-of-concept results. The team has extensive experience in developing externally derived molecules in partnership with selected VC firms (including HealthCare Ventures, TVM Capital, Atlas Ventures).
  • Biotechnology Discovery Research

    Biotherapeutic Discovery and Validation:

    • Antibody discovery: in vitro and in vivo
    • Antibody screening platforms; e.g., microfluidics
    • Novel immunization platforms
      • Ion channels
    • Bi-specific/multi-functional platforms
    • Alternative antibody scaffolds
    • Protein engineering
    • Translational cell-based platforms – 3D culture; e.g., 3D printing – ‘Organ on a chip’ nanotechnology
    • iPS cell differentiation
    • Vascular endothelial cell biology

    Biotherapeutic Optimization:

    • Protein expression/production technologies – Non-mammalian/microbial expression and production systems – Cell line generation – Cell culture – Antibody/Fab production systems
    • Purification processes
    • Glycosylation, including non-mammalian
    • Peptide chemistry – Semi-synthetic or recombinant – Non-natural amino acid incorporation
    • Protein: protein interactions – Macrocyclics
    • Peptide/Protein drug conjugates
      • Novel linker/conjugation chemistries
    • Time extension of antibodies, peptides and proteins
      • Size: alternatives to PEG-ylation
      • Controlled release
    • Site-specific chemical modification
    • Biophysical analysis
      • Mass spectrometry data analysis tools
      • Characterization of particle mass, composition, morphology; i.e., >1 um
      • Protein structure at higher resolution than CD, FTIR, etc.
      • Automated formats for existing biophysical techniques; e.g., static light scattering
      • Protein colloidal stability/protein-protein interactions at >100+mg/mL

    Biotherapeutic Formulation/Delivery:

    • Oral
      • Permeation enhancers, receptor-mediated transcytosis, nanotechnologies
    • Blood-brain barrier
    • Capillary endothelial barrier
    • Pericellular junctions (subQ delivery)
    • Intracellular targeting
    • Formulation design
      • Excipients, co-formulations, nanotechnologies
    • Devices
    • In vivo targeted delivery of nucleic acid-based molecules

    Click Biotechnology Discovery Research for PDF version.

  • Devices, Delivery and Systems

    Our greatest interests lie in device, delivery, and connected solutions for Diabetes, Alzheimer's, Immunology, Pain and Oncology, with a specific focus in the following areas:

    Connected Product Systems:

    • Connected drug delivery devices including next-generation miniature electronics, batteries/power systems, and communication
    • Products or technologies to enable the continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion sites to remain viable for extended periods of time
    • Novel, biosensing technologies or digital biomarker platforms (that are directly applicable to the disease states above)
    • Analytics platforms, including novel algorithms and deep learning techniques, for the development and optimization of actionable insights for personalized disease management
    • HCP-focused platforms with EMR workflow integration for optimizing therapy management of individual patients and populations

    Biologic Delivery:

    • High volume, high viscosity, multi-pharmacology or oral peptide delivery technologies
    • Needle-free delivery technologies
    • Time-action modulation (small and large molecules)
    • Preservation technology to enable multi-use biological preps
    • Device technology, including body-worn devices, to rapidly deliver high-volume (>2ml) and/or high-viscosity (>10 cpd) biologic solutions
    • Multi-pharmacology delivery systems, including fixed-dose combinations and bi-specific or combined dose antibodies
    • Technologies to increase concentration of proteins or reduce viscosity
    • Longer stabilization or eliminated/reduced preservative insulin technologies
    • Oral peptide delivery
  • Lilly International : Geographic Focus

    In-Licensing and Co-Development


    • Thoracic cancer and breast cancer
    • Gastrointestinal: Gastric, colorectal, hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatic cancer
    • Immuno-oncology


    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, anklyosing spondylitis
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus, lupus nephritis
    • Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis


    • Neurodegenerative disorders: Approaches that affect disease progression or modification and/or address major symptoms of the disease
    • Pain and Migraine


    • Glucose and metabolic control: ultra rapid-acting insulins, novel oral anti-diabetic agents, novel insulin sensitizers
    • NASH
    • Endocrine disorders (e.g., growth disorders)
    • Connected product systems: Connected injection devices, analytics platforms that provide actionable insights

    Click Lilly International for PDF version.

  • Chorus

    Chorus is a full service, autonomous R&D unit within Lilly that specializes in lead to PoC clinical development for internal (Lilly) and external assets.

    • Focuses only on those experiments that can provide quick go/no go decisions and create strong PoC data packages.
    • Pulls risk forward by implementing development work that drives the largest change in technical probability of success and greatest value in the shortest time.
    • Defers expense on work not necessary for the PoC data package until there is a validated mechanism and viable drug candidate.
    • Unitilizes a streamlined quality system fit for PoC development.
    • Provides a co-located team of drug development experts, averaging over 15 years of industry experience, across the service areas of CMC (large and small molecule), Toxicology, PK, Clinical, Regulatory, Quality and Sourcing.
    • Improves productivity in both time and cost compared to average pharmaceutical R&D metrics.

    The Chorus strategy is the (1) develop, de-risk and increase the value of early phase internal (Lilly) and external assets supporting Lilly's capital fund strategy, (2) development of assets/targets outside Lilly core focus areas, and (3) provide additional resources and an alternative development approach for Lilly's therapeutic focus areas.

    Since its creation in 2002, Chorus has supported 72 development programs (57 Lilly and 15 non-Lilly) throughout North America, Europe and Asia, some of which have progressed to phase 3 and as marketed products.

    Contact us at

    Click Chorus WEB for PDF version.

    Click Chorus 10 year paper

  • Discovery Chemistry Research and Technologies

    Discovery Chemistry Research & Technologies (DCRT) invents and discovers new small molecules that can become medicines. These molecules must have the right characteristics to test innovative therapeutic hypotheses and be differentiated from those of our competitors. To achieve this, DCRT partners with all therapeutic areas within Lilly to choose the right biological targets whose manipulation may lead to positive patient outcomes. DCRT brings together many different scientific disciplines to design, prepare, and select the best molecular scaffolds for optimization, with the ultimate goal of delivering a single molecule that has the best combination of attributes to be tested in the clinic.

    Molecule Design & Identification:

    • In silico & related technologies, including artificial intelligence/machine learning for novel drug discovery
    • Novel Analytical methodologies & instrumentation to improve efficiency
    • Complementary chemical diversity
    • DNA-encoded libraries
    • Oral strategies for high MW molecules
    • Protein: Protein interaction inhibitors and inhibitors of protein misfolding
    • Protein degradation methodology

    Biological Testing:

    • CRISPR Platforms (CRISPR Library's, Screening Platforms, Genome editing in cell culture and animal (knockout/knock-in))
    • 2D/3D Organoid technologies
    • Platforms for measuring covalent drug-target occupancy and drug (ligand) binding residence times
    • Novel human disease-relevant in vitro cell-based assays
    • Novel biological targets & assay approaches,including protein translation
    • Cell imaging and analytical biosensor platforms for elucidating MOA
    • Chemoinformatics techniques (analytical, biophysical, biochemical, chemical probes)
  • Lilly-San Diego Collaborative Research

    The Lilly Biotechnology Center in San Diego (LBC-SD) is seeking academic and biotechnology partners interested in leveraging our protein discovery and engineering capabilities to advance research on novel therapeutic targets and pathways into clinical translation. With our ability to create a large molecule diversity via robust antibody and peptide discovery technologies, a collaboration with LBC-SD allows the rigorous interrogation and validation of novel targets. Our engineering capabilities allow pursuit of flexible strategies of multi-parameter optimization to solve key issues with pharmacology, drugability and down-stream developability spanning traditional scaffolds to next-generation multifunctionals. These varied scaffolds (including antibodies, hormones, cytokines and enzymes) have successfully been applied to a broad range of clinical targets.