Innovation Needs Champions

Today’s guest blog comes from Laura Benjamin, Ph.D. She is Vice President of Cancer Biology and Angiogenesis at the Lilly research and development site in New York City.

I’ve always been drawn to nature and science. As a child, my parents would find me conducting impromptu science experiments at our home in Savannah, Georgia. Later, my natural curiosity led me to an undergraduate degree in biology and a Ph.D. in molecular biology of cancer.

After completing my post-doctorate fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I spent 10 years leading a research lab at Harvard Medical School. Six years ago, I left my position at Harvard and joined ImClone (now Lilly). 

During my academic career, I became frustrated because I felt there was a limit on the impact my work could have on drug discovery and cancer therapy. I published my ideas in scientific journals, but I couldn’t force companies to test them. I decided that if I wanted to become more influential in translational science, I needed to make a career change. Moving to Lilly was an opportunity to further explore many of the hypotheses I’d been passionate about for 15-plus years.

I’m a scientist at Lilly because I want to discover better medicines. I want to tailor medicines to the right patients. The work we do is hard, but that doesn’t deter me.  I’d like to encourage other research scientists to speak up and champion their ideas. Innovative drug development requires insightful champions who will fight for the molecules they believe in.


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