Science has greatly evolved over the last century, and the pace of change and innovation only continues to get faster. During this time, there have been many medical innovations in Canada. These would not have been possible without the people who had the courage to champion continuous improvement, embrace change, and partner with others to evolve their approach.
This month, Eli Lilly and Company enters into its 140th year. As we celebrate nearly a century and a half of making life better, I’m thankful for a lot of things. First, I am thankful for the extraordinary vision laid out by our founder Colonel Eli Lilly, but I am also grateful for the incredible support of every person, researcher, and organization that has helped us live out this mission.
Our work in Canada exemplifies the way we’ve woven collaboration into our commitment to making life better for people. We can trace this legacy back to the early 1920s, with the groundbreaking work of researchers at the University of Toronto. When Frederick Banting teamed up with Lilly scientists to manufacture the first commercially available insulin, thousands of lives were saved. But they also paved the way for another huge breakthrough half a century later, when Lilly introduced the first biosynthetic 'human' insulin with recombinant DNA technology.
Due in no small part to this early partnership, we opened Eli Lilly Canada in 1938. Coincidentally, that same year another Canadian innovator initiated the first studies to validate tuberculosis vaccines, which helped pave the way for our work to fight multidrug resistant tuberculosis around the world and to create the vaccine that led to the eradication of polio.
Looking back it’s clear that medical progress has also been happening faster and faster. Take clinical trials as an example. The intensive work to test the efficacy of insulin that Frederick Banting and his team endured looks much different from the type of trials Canada excels at today.
Today, we apply this same commitment to continuous innovation in our efforts to find treatments to address cancer, autoimmune disease, rare disease and other unmet medical needs. This inspiration also guides us as we work to discover and develop new medicines and treatments for Canadians and people around the world. This includes our more than 25-year commitment to addressing one of our most critical modern health challenges, Alzheimer’s disease.
While it’s important to reflect on our legacy of innovation for inspiration, we didn’t get this far on our own or by relying on our victories of the past. It’s clear that the future holds great promise in terms of medical innovation, and we look forward to creating meaningful partnerships and accomplishments in the years ahead.