Purdue University’s executive vice president for research and partnerships says a $250 million focus on life sciences announced last year "undoubtedly" helped spur the kind of private sector engagement involved in a new mega-collaboration with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY). Purdue and Lilly detailed a $52 million partnership Thursday morning — the largest of its kind in school history — which focuses on improving the delivery of injectable pain medication and creating new therapy outcome prediction models. During an interview last year on Inside INdiana Business Television, Suresh Garimella described the key role private sector investment plays in supporting development of Purdue discoveries.

The quarter-million-dollar industry emphasis, he says, is a play for talent. It involves the addition of 60 faculty members and facility upgrades that will be funded through a variety of sources that he believes will draw "high-end" talent to Purdue and have a ripple effect throughout academia and the private sector in the state.

"Obviously federal grants are important, we’d like to bring more federal grants to Purdue, but as you know, (in 2015) we had a third of our research awards that came from the corporate and foundation sector," he told Host Gerry Dick in January of 2016. "This is a very large percentage compared to any of our peers and we have an office of global and corporate partnerships and we anticipate that, while federal grants will continue increase, our corporate partnerships in the life sciences space will be a very critical growth area."

The new, five-year collaboration with Lilly, Garimella says, is a "particular point of pride" because of the company’s prominence in Indiana and on the global stage. "The collaboration was structured from the inception to be coordinated by the leadership at Lilly and Purdue to ensure relevance and unprecedented collaboration among teams of university and company researchers," he adds.

Purdue and Lilly have worked together in the past and Purdue President Mitch Daniels, who previously spent 10 years as an executive with Lilly, calls the arrangement "a new level of collaboration that will move us forward in areas core to both institutions." Lilly Chief Executive Office Dave Ricks agrees, adding "the biomedical revolution is upon us, but harnessing its full potential will require strong collaboration between academic research centers and industry partners."

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