In 1930, the president of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. gave some money to help start Purdue Research Park, with the hope of turning university research into Indiana companies.
Now, at the end of 2013, Purdue will launch an entity that aims to be, well, a lot like Eli Lilly and Co.
As early as this month, the university will create a not-for-profit whose sole task will be to move the university’s 36 drug molecules through various stages of testing in laboratories and into early trials in human patients.
That is what Lilly Research Laboratories, the research and development arm of Eli Lilly and Co., does now for that company’s vast portfolio of drugs. Lilly currently has 56 molecules in human testing.
But with Lilly and its “big pharma” peers cutting back on their lavish R&D spending, they are increasingly looking to universities to pick up the slack. Purdue hopes to be one of the places that soaks up some of the pharma R&D funding and turns out a stream of promising medicines.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels, himself a former Lilly executive, gave his blessing in September to the Purdue Drug Discovery Initiative. Started under Daniels’ predecessor, the initiative includes building a $28 million facility to centralize various centers at Purdue
that already work on drug discovery. It also includes more than $32 million to purchase new drug discovery equipment and to recruit nine drug researchers to Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.