Looking Back to Go Forward

“We’ve seen so many advances in cancer research, but we are still at the beginning.”

It’s been a 26 year journey: From late nights in Lilly’s R&D labs, to his days on the road in Lilly Japan, to his current role as global development leader of an immunotherapy in Phase 3 development, Lilly’s Ben Anderson has been motivated by this belief and a sense of urgency that there’s more work to be done. Because as he says, “No person living with cancer would agree that we should be satisfied.”

“I joined Lilly in 1993 as a process development chemist and imagined a future that did not stray far from the lab,” said Anderson. Yet, in his 26 years at Lilly, Anderson’s career has taken him out of the lab and onto the front lines of developing new medicines to help people living with cancer. We asked him what excites him about the next wave of cancer therapies, and what inspires him to do more for patients every day:

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve experienced in your time at Lilly?

Science has evolved at rapid pace. Oncology has evolved from a therapeutic area focused on chemotherapy to include a much broader arsenal that includes therapies that target specific tumor mutations and immune-based therapies. We have made remarkable progress in understanding how our biology plays a role in cancer. We are at the beginning of a new era.

Name three things that stand out in your 26 years at Lilly.

  1. Take a broad view. I had the opportunity to spend a few years working at Lilly’s affiliate in Japan. The experience took me closer to the customer and gave me an external focus. It provided a new perspective on how we think about innovation, and the importance of working to speed up how we develop and deliver new medicines to patients.
  2. Execution matters. The past 18 months stand out as Lilly has delivered clinical trial results, launched new products and formed partnerships or made acquisitions involving emerging technologies such as RNA interference, immuno-oncology and precision medicine. Lilly made a commitment to develop and deliver innovative new medicines that will make a meaningful difference to people living with cancer – and we are executing and delivering on that now.
  3. We can’t do it alone. The fight to end cancer will take a concerted effort and I am inspired by the people I work with every day. Lilly employees are dedicated and there are thousands of partners in health systems all over the world who share our goal to cure cancer.

What inspires you every day?

People. It’s that simple. I’m also excited about our portfolio and pipeline of medicines at Lilly Oncology, but ultimately so we can do more for people who are living with cancer, as well as those who are supporting loved ones with cancer. I’m thankful to be a part of something that has the potential to make a big difference in cancer treatment.