INDIANAPOLIS – A $25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will elevate Indiana’s position as one of the nation’s top life science research hubs by funding an innovative recruitment strategy designed to attract top scientists to Indiana University School of Medicine and the state.
The grant will fund the Indiana Collaborative Initiative for Talent Enrichment (INCITE), a collaboration between IU School of Medicine and non-academic partners such as the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, Eli Lilly and Co., Roche, Dow, Cook, BioCrossroads, IU Health and Eskenazi Health. Through the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), the initiative also will include partnerships with Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame.
As part of INCITE, IU School of Medicine will hire biomedical scientists whose work will not only enhance research and education at the school, but also strengthen the economic health of Indiana’s broader life sciences community. Various members of the life sciences sector will collaborate with IU School of Medicine in this endeavor by serving on a scientific advisory board to advise the school on areas of unmet need in the community and helping to attract biomedical scientists whose expertise and interests are relevant to both IU and INCITE partners. IU School of Medicine expects these collaborations will focus on several key research areas that build on existing strengths and opportunities for growth including applications for genomic medicine and new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and childhood diseases.
“For Indiana to continue to grow as one of our nation’s leading centers for life science research and innovation, it is critical that we continue to attract the top research talent to our state,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie, PhD. “The collaboration funded by this generous grant from Lilly Endowment will further invigorate efforts by Indiana University faculty to turn their scientific breakthroughs into the types of new products, services and treatments that will have a major impact on our state’s economic development and quality of life. This collaboration will also help ensure that we continue to more effectively connect the discoveries emanating from our laboratories with what our state’s industry leaders need to stay and become even more competitive in today’s marketplace.”
The collaborative nature of the initiative is made possible by Lilly Endowment’s longitudinal investment in IU School of Medicine. Endowment grants awarded in 2000 and 2002 totaling $155 million helped the school build research infrastructure and put in place technologies needed to recruit leading talent. A 2009 grant of $60 million enabled the school to recruit top scientists trained as both physicians and researchers—all of which has prepared IU School of Medicine to make the most of broader external collaborations and partnerships through INCITE.
“As one of the leading life sciences sectors in the country, Indiana’s life sciences sector is critical to Indiana’s economy,” said Sara B. Cobb, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “The intellectual capital and research capacity of Indiana University School of Medicine are essential to the flourishing of that sector. Lilly Endowment is pleased to help build on the school’s impressive strengths through this innovative and collaborative new initiative, which will not only enhance the life sciences sector but also result in advances in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of health conditions.”
The grant also will support the creation of a high-end biomedical research center with cryo-electron microscopy technology to study the structure of molecules at the atomic level, which will be available to researchers at IU School of Medicine and other organizations in Indiana’s life sciences sector. It also will fund the establishment of a PhD program in bioinformatics to help IU School of Medicine train the next generation of scientists in genomic medicine.
Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, IU associate vice president of research for university clinical affairs and IU School of Medicine executive associate dean for research affairs, said INCITE will help IU School of Medicine focus on key objectives that advance research and education across the state.
“This significant grant from Lilly Endowment will help us to attract top biomedical researchers working to bridge academic discovery and commercialization,” said Dr. Shekhar, who is also director of the Indiana CTSI. “INCITE will help bring together the state’s biomedical research organizations to jointly create discovery teams, grow shared technologies across academia and industry, enhance our collaborative work in chemical biology and big data sciences, and train the next generation of Indiana’s translational research workforce.”