Eli Lilly Externship Opportunity in Clinical and Translational Sciences

Program Overview

This is an opportunity for an externship in clinical and translational sciences at Eli Lilly and Company for scholars, trainees and investigators who are supported by the NCATS, Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program. The externship at Eli Lilly, a large pharmaceutical company, will support the training and education of participants in techniques and principles needed for translational research.  Education and training will be team oriented, and in areas of mutual interest for the trainee/scholar and Eli Lilly. Scientific, theoretical and practical knowledge will include an appreciation of translational and commercialization challenges in developing and bringing a biotechnology or pharmaceutical product to patients.

The key objective of this NCATS externship program is to enhance a translational scientists’ skill sets and competencies in clinical trial design, clinical pharmacology, toxicology, regulatory affairs and other areas critical to the drug development process. It is expected that at the end of this externship that participants (coming from academia) will understand the work, “language” and culture of another part of the translational ecosystem (industry) and contribute to the growth of an interdisciplinary translational workforce that can promote cooperation and collaboration among academic and industry stakeholders.

Externship Experience

Watch a video featuring Josephine Taverna, M.D., an assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, who discusses her externship experience learning to mathematically model Alzheimer’s disease.


The externship is an agreement made between Eli Lilly and the participant. The externship is a fully immersive experience and requires a commitment of six months at Eli Lilly’s main headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Each participant will be matched with a mentor and integrated into the scientific project teams at Eli Lilly. Participants will work on intensive, hands-on projects that will expose them to the translational sciences processes and approaches that are relevant to identifying and developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics. It is expected that this intensive experience will help participants understand the mechanisms of a drug’s action, identify strategies in developing compounds, and evaluate PK/PD studies that are used in preclinical and clinical studies as well as the challenges associated with navigating the drug approval process from designing clinical trials to submitting a new Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with each other as a cohort in seminars/workshops to foster cross-fertilization of ideas and promote interdisciplinary learning. If there is interest, there will also be an opportunity for the participant to visit NIH/NCATS at the end.


This externship opportunity is open to CTSA Program trainees, scholars or investigators supported by CTSA Program hub award* funds who:

  • Have a clinical doctoral degree (M.D. or Ph.D.) or its equivalent in biological or biomedical sciences, bioengineering or a related field;
  • Have a record of accomplishments in clinical and translational science research;
  • Have a keen interest in learning more about drug development and commercialization processes; and
  • Are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

*Typically, candidates should fit into one of the following three categories:

  • CTSA investigators supported under the UL1
  • CTSA Program TL1 Trainee, postdoctoral level
  • CTSA Program KL2 scholar (if built in upfront in career development plan)


Successful applicants will be provided with:

  • Projects in the areas of PK/PD and clinical pharmacology as well as opportunities to participate in meetings/seminars (as appropriate), interact with other Lilly staff and also program staff at NIH/NCATS.
    • To gain novel training, applicants are encouraged to select projects that are distinct from their academic research projects at their institutions.
  • Lodging by Eli Lilly in Indiana.
  • Travel costs associated with two roundtrips for participants between their institution and Eli Lilly in Indiana. Alternatively, one of the two roundtrip travels (airfare OR mileage reimbursement if driving) could be to NIH/NCATS to meet with program leadership.

Please note that the participants’ stipend or salary must be provided from the CTSA Program Hub award as no new additional funds for salary or stipend are provided with this externship.  A letter of commitment from the PI of the CTSA Program hub must accompany an application ensuring the participants’ stipend/salary will be provided for the term of the externship (see Application Procedure). 


Selected participants are required to:

  • Agree to and sign a non-disclosure agreement with Eli Lilly.
  • To attend an orientation session at Eli Lilly at the beginning of their experience.
  • Showcase their work at the end of the externship at a research symposium at Eli Lilly.
  • Upon completion of the externship, participants will be required to complete an exit interview with NCATS staff, a post-rotation evaluation and will receive a statement of completion.

Application Procedure

  1. Discuss your interests with your CTSA Program hub PI and your mentor.
  2. Discuss your interests with the NCATS point of contact prior to applying.
  3. Apply: Please submit the following application package in PDF format:
    • A cover letter signed by the applicant and the CTSA Program Hub PI (one page)
    • A statement of research interests, your major achievements as a scientist, and a statement as to how this externship will benefit your research program and career development (no more than three pages)
    • Indicate your top two project areas, if you were to be selected
    • Your NIH biosketch
    • Contact information for three references. One of the references must be the PI of the CTSA Program hub.

All application materials should be submitted by the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) via email to ncatselilillyexternship@mail.nih.gov by April 16, 2019, for consideration.

Selection Process

A review committee comprised of NCATS staff and Eli Lilly mentors and senior staff will review the applications, and a joint meeting will be held to review and select the participants. Announcements will be made by early June with a target start date of July 9, 2019.

Please direct all inquiries to:

Joan Nagel, M.D., M.P.H., NCATS