Eli Lilly and Purdue University said they have launched an up-to-$52 million research collaboration focused on drug delivery and risk-reducing models for drug development—the university’s largest-ever research alliance with a single company.

Researchers from Purdue’s natural and physical sciences, engineering, and veterinary medicine programs will engage in interdisciplinary collaboration with Lilly researchers. The partners have identified two initial areas of research. One is improving the delivery of injectable medicines, with the goals of reducing pain, decreasing the number of injections, and enabling better patient compliance and overall health.

The partners have also committed to developing predictive models for clinical success that reduce risks associated with investing in drug development and predict the outcome of new therapies in humans more effectively.

Lilly and Purdue anticipate expanding their collaboration into other areas that further tap into their expertise.

The collaboration comes more than a year after Purdue’s January 2016 announcement of plans to spend $250 million over five years to advance life sciences research by funding the hiring of “high-impact, leading” faculty members, as well as dozens of new positions across six colleges, advanced instrumentation purchases, and shared research facilities intended to enhance the life sciences.

“Purdue University's investment in the life sciences last year has undoubtedly increased opportunities for engagement with industry partners,” Suresh Garimella, Ph.D., Purdue's evp for research and partnerships and Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, said yesterday in a statement. “This agreement with one of the most prominent companies headquartered in the state of Indiana is a particular point of pride.”

Added Andrew Dahlem, Ph.D., vp, COO, Lilly Research Laboratories: “This strategic agreement links our two organizations in a commitment to scientific research supporting the global needs of patients. In addition, our collaboration strengthens our shared commitment to attract and retain the top engineering and technology talent in Indiana.”

Purdue’s life-sci commitment announced last year included $60 million toward its Pillars of Excellence in the Life Sciences Initiative, designed to produce preeminent contributions in the areas of integrative neurosciences and inflammation and immunology and infectious diseases. As part of that effort, Purdue established the Integrative Neuroscience Center and Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease, as a complement to the university’s Purdue Moves’ Drug Discovery and Plant Sciences initiatives.

Lilly’s then-chairman, president, and CEO John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., was among Indiana life sciences leaders who praised Purdue’s commitment: “They will make Purdue an even more important player in drug discovery and applied life sciences research—attracting industry partners, stimulating innovation-based growth in Indiana, and above all turning scientific leads into potential new treatments.”

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