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Eli Lilly, Indiana U., Purdue Create Proteomics R&D Consortium

NEW YORK, Feb. 14 - Eli Lilly, Indiana University, and Purdue University have joined forces to create a three-way R&D partnership in proteomics, the groups said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The collaboration, dubbed the Indiana Proteomics Consortium, is a three-year, $12 million program designed to develop new proteomics tools and methodologies, including drugs and diagnostics. The partnership also hopes to spin off a new company that would bring on board researchers from around Indiana, where the three partners are based.


The non-profit consortium will work like this: Each school will ante up $3 million and Lilly will cover the remaining $6 million to get the ball rolling. The partners will use this money to open a facility mid-year "someplace in Indianapolis" that will be run by three administrators who will oversee an initial staff of between 20 and 30 people. Rick Ludwig, who heads Lilly's research acquisition unit, has been named interim director.


Staffing the new facility will be researchers from Lilly as well as faculty, graduate students, and post-docs from both universities.  More researchers may be added depending on the collaboration's initial success.


So far, the consortium members have picked four R&D goals that a Lilly spokeswoman was not prepared to disclose. They believe they can have at least one of these up and running before the three-year initial lifespan runs out, though officials from all three groups told GenomeWeb on Wednesday that the option exists either to pump more of their own money into the alliance to extend its research, or to try to woo the private equity market.


Either way, the consortium hopes eventually to have a program strong enough and with enough projects on its plate to spin off a company that will commercialize whatever products it creates, according to an Indiana University spokesman.

If something is developed and ultimately sold, the consortium will divvy up the booty in a way that reflects their individual initial investments, the Lilly spokeswoman said. She would not say whether that meant that Lilly would keep half of all proceeds and leave the universities to share what's left.

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