September 28, 2023

Purdue’s inaugural Lilly Scholars train to become pharmaceutical manufacturing workforce talent of the future

Scholarships from the Purdue and Eli Lilly and Company collaboration provide tuition, internships and interaction with company leaders for dozens of undergraduates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University’s Lilly Scholars are hitting the ground running in their training to become the next generation of pharmaceutical manufacturing talent. Thanks to a $42.5 million collaboration between Purdue and Eli Lilly and Company, students earned pharmaceutical manufacturing scholarships and unique learning opportunities with one of the world’s most innovative pharmaceutical companies.

The dynamic new program, which was originally announced last October, annually offers 50-100 talented students full tuition with a guaranteed internship at Lilly and a promise of coordinated interaction with company leaders. Participating students will then be provided opportunities to compete for a role at the company following graduation.

“The incredibly innovative Lilly Scholars at Purdue program is one that will have a profound impact on the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry,” said Kimberly Graham, Pharma co-op and Lilly Scholars program manager. “The partnership between Purdue University and Eli Lilly and Company is one that prioritizes building a diverse pipeline of talent right here in Indiana, developing interest in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and inspiring academic and industry excellence.” 

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Just two months into their college careers at Purdue, the inaugural Lilly Scholars are already engaging with industry professionals, developing friendships with colleagues, planning for their guaranteed internships at Lilly, and participating in exciting experiential learning opportunities that span both the curricular and social spaces.

“The Lilly Scholars program provides me with endless networking and professional development opportunities that I couldn’t receive otherwise,” said Maria Molina, a data science major. “I was originally unsure of my college destination, but after being accepted, my college decision seemed like a no-brainer, and being a Lilly Scholar is the reason I became a Boilermaker.”

Pharmaceutical companies like Lilly have recognized the need for heavy investments in economical methods of manufacturing drugs, instead of just drug discovery, and leveraged the unique position of Purdue and the state of Indiana to strengthen pharmaceutical manufacturing in the Midwest. Over the last five years, Lilly has committed over $6 billion in pharmaceutical manufacturing globally.

Purdue has strengthened its commitment to pharmaceutical manufacturing as well, launching the William D. and Sherry L. Young Advanced Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals Institute last year, thanks to a generous donation from pharmaceutical and biotechnology pioneer William D. Young. The institute offers opportunities for workforce development, with the potential to train future Indiana workers in the basics of the pharmaceutical industry, and serves as a workforce training resource for Midwestern pharmaceutical companies. In fall 2023, the Young Institute in collaboration with Purdue’s Office of Professional Practice has launched a new undergraduate certificate in pharmaceutical manufacturing. The unique experiential learning certificate provides core curriculum for pharmaceutical careers and is open to students from various majors like the Lilly Scholars cohort.

Professor Elizabeth Topp, director of the Young Institute, gave a kickoff lecture to the Lilly Scholars in one of their fall classes. “It was great to meet such an engaged group of students, so keen to learn about the pharmaceutical industry,” Topp said. “It’s exciting to imagine how they’ll transform the industry in the years to come, following in the footsteps of amazing Purdue alumni like Bill Young.”

The Lilly Scholars program encourages applicants who are from under-resourced urban and rural populations, who have overcome socioeconomic or educational disadvantages, or who are among the first generation in their family to attend college, and applicants with a commitment to reducing barriers to education. Students applying to majors that relate to the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry can apply for these awards.

Incoming Purdue undergraduates wishing to apply for the 2024 Lilly Scholars program will have to do so by Nov. 1.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at

Writer/Media contact: Derek Schultz,

Source: Kimberly Graham

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