Sponsored by the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation
Alan D. Palkowitz, 49, “is a strong believer in the power of chemistry and technology to improve the human race,” according to Joe Shih, executive vice president at Crown Bioscience and a former colleague from Eli Lilly & Co. “His scientific training and management acumen have earned him the reputation as one of the most innovation-focused and yet results-oriented managers in the pharmaceutical industry.”
With a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate in organic chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Palkowitz has spent the past 24 years at Lilly. He began working at the company as a chemist and quickly moved into managing discovery research efforts. In 2006, he took on his current role as vice president for discovery chemistry research and technologies.
Palkowitz, who is based in Indianapolis, is responsible for overseeing research at four sites worldwide that employ more than 600 scientists. He is accountable for the delivery of small-molecule clinical candidates across several disease areas as well as the discovery chemistry strategy, which includes science, processes, technologies, talent recruitment and development, and financials.
At Lilly, Palkowitz is known for championing the implementation of lead generation and compound collection strategies, along with building a diversified approach to drug discovery. He consolidated medicinal chemistry at the company into a single organization known as Discovery Chemistry Research and created an advisory team that provides scientific peer review for all projects supported by the unit.
“Throughout his career, Alan Palkowitz has demonstrated a keen ability to translate creativity as a scientist toward a vision for evolving Eli Lilly’s approach to drug discovery,” Indiana University chemistry professor and department chair David Giedroc says. “He has set a standard for the industry in innovative approaches to develop and leverage scientific talent, technologies, and external collaborations to create potential therapies for patients.” This process has included helping foster strong relationships with academic institutions in Lilly’s home state of Indiana.
To expand Lilly’s capabilities, Palkowitz helped drive the acquisition of SGX Pharmaceuticals in 2008 and set up key partnerships, such as one with Scripps Research Institute in Florida. He has also implemented initiatives in China and India to access scientific talent and capacity for drug discovery.
Recognizing the need to also explore alternative R&D models to improve access to a broader scientific community, Palkowitz led the development of an initiative now called Open Innovation Drug Discovery. Its primary goal is to tap into external talent and novel molecules through collaborations with academia and small biotech firms.
Palkowitz’ promotion through the ranks of research management has been based not only on his scientific and strategic insights, but also on his ability to manage projects and people effectively, Shih points out. He has established a strong and diverse scientific talent base at Lilly through recruiting, career development, and mentoring.
Lilly recognized Palkowitz in 2003 with the Chairman’s Ovation Award for Leadership, the highest award presented to any employee in the company. An accumulation of 59 issued U.S. patents, 25 peer-reviewed publications, and numerous presentations at major universities and scientific meetings document his scientific accomplishments.
Palkowitz will present the award address before the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry.