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Lilly's 'big data' ally finds new Indy digs for IT workers

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Quintiles has found new offices closer to pharma partner Eli Lilly ($LLY). The pharma services giant has inked a 5-year lease on about 12,000 square feet in the Pan Am Plaza building in Indianapolis in part to support an ongoing project that uses information technology to streamline drug development at Lilly.

The project taps "big data" to enable better decision-making in drug development, Phil Bridges, a spokesman for Quintiles, said via email. For the past three years, he said, Lilly and Quintiles have worked together on a "unique information technology-driven project to re-engineer the way clinical trials are designed and how clinical plans are formulated. The goal of the collaboration has been to develop an integrated approach to optimizing how trials are conducted [and] eliminate costly inefficiencies." 

Lilly has sought deeper ties with Quintiles and other external partners to nimbly advance new drugs to market as the Indianapolis-based drugmaker reels from generics competition to Zyprexa and soon Cymbalta.

Company CEO John Lechleiter talked up the use of IT and other technologies to bolster efforts to bring new medicines to market. Lilly also gained headlines in recent years for its early adoption in pharma of Amazon's cloud computing infrastructure. Lilly has won kudos in the IT world for its Open Innovation Drug Discovery program that features computational tools that allow outside researchers to use modeling software from the company and share data with the drugmaker.  

Durham, NC-based Quintiles plans to initially house 50 workers in its new Indy office, with that number growing to up to 65 by the end of the year, Bridges said. The operation is expected to serve the Lilly collaboration and other IT and data-driven projects. He didn't specify the exact types of Big Data involved in the Lilly project, but there are a variety from genome sequencing, clinical, and other studies that biopharma outfits have scrambled to harness and analyze for drug research. 

Quintiles aims to beef up its bioinformatics and genomics capabilities with its recent buyout of Expression Analysis, which brings expertise in managing "big" DNA data.

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