Fireside chat with Lilly CEO on drug industry, recruitment | Campus

Purdue President Mitch Daniels and the chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Co. sat down for a fireside chat Wednesday to discuss pharmaceutical prices, the nuances of the FDA and more.

Purdue has a longer history with Lilly than what might be expected. Daniels worked at the large health care company during the 1990s. David Ricks, Lilly’s chairman and CEO, graduated from Purdue in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in business and a minor in engineering.

A more relevant connection to students who currently attend Purdue is that, as of July 6, Purdue and Lilly have entered into a strategic research collaboration. This new partnership will look into improving upon injection methods and developing predictive models for clinical success, with Lilly having agreed to providing up to $52 million over a five-year period.

The fireside chat began with Daniels questioning Ricks as to the company culture at Lilly, wanting students to get a better idea about the company from his time there.

“It’s a very mission-driven enterprise,” said Ricks.

He went on to explain that it is hard to find someone at Lilly who does not want to make a positive impact on the future of medicine. He talked about the present being the best time for developing biopharmaceutical drugs for issues such as diabetes, cancer, immunology, pain and neuroscience.

Daniels followed with a question about the obstacles of innovation. Ricks replied that innovation came in cycles, with the 1990s being very productive and having a slowdown in the 2000s.

“I think we have a new FDA commissioner who is on his front foot in terms of speed of approval,” said Ricks.

When asked by Daniels if there were any issues that were always on his mind, Ricks once again mentioned the federal government.

“It’s the stroke-of-the-pen issues in Washington,” said Ricks. “It’s kind of a volatile time up there right now.”

Before the questions portion of the fireside chat began, there was one last important topic that Daniels brought up: what Lilly was looking for in Purdue students.

“Grit and gratitude,” said Ricks. “In other words, we are looking for determination and humility.”

For the last 20 minutes of the talk, the floor was open to students and other attendees to present questions to Ricks. One question posed was if, when he graduated from Purdue, he had a five-year or 10-year plan.

“No,” said Ricks. “Just know your principles and what you’re passionate about.”

Another student asked Ricks if he was worried that the United States is not a world leader in basic health care.

“That’s a very good comment,” said Ricks. “If you’re sick, you want to live in the U.S. But it’s not the best way to stay healthy.”

After the conclusion of the talk, students participating in Lilly Day at Purdue were then encouraged to attend breakout sessions in multiple classrooms in Stewart Center.

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