In “America’s Growing Innovation Gap”, WSJ, July 9, 2010, Eli Lilly CEO John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D. writes that:
“…the most important elements are the seeds of innovation, which equate to talented people and their ideas.”
He then suggests these people are “highly skilled immigrants” abroad.
In my own circle of friends, I know American pharma industry cast-offs who are both brilliant and talented. One with dual MS degrees in mathematics and computer science from a major university, one a skilled bioinformaticist I've had teach my healthcare informatics students as guest lecturer, one a brilliant programmer who could be considered the grandfather of computer image manipulation, another with years of expertise in pharma knowledge discovery.
Then there's me – former Director of a Merck R&D support group and of The Merck Index - with degrees in medicine and post-doctoral specialization in biomedical informatics and information science, plus I'm an extra-class amateur radio licensee who understands complex technology at a level far beyond that of the usual pharmaceutical company worker.
Yet no donuts for us. In recent years the pharmaceutical industry won’t grant any of us the courtesy even of an interview.
However, in Mar. 2009 as I documented here, I did receive an email solicitation from Lilly that read as follows ("sic's" are mine):
“Your Help Is Requested for a Eli Lilly Career Opportunity! (sic) I am a member of the Staffing Team at Eli Lilly. I were referred to me (sic) as person who specializes in pharmaceutical based informatics. I wanted to reach out to me (sic), to see if you maybe able (sic) to recommend anyone that could qualify for the below position (sic)."
I was not exactly inspired by this solicitation, perhaps written by one of the "highly skilled immigrants" Lechleiter covets.
Nor was I inspired by the earlier solicitation I documented at my Jan. 2009 post "What, Me Worry? Lilly Fined Over Zyprexa, Should Be Fined For eRecruitment Inanity As Well?"
A cause of the "innovation gap" may be leadership xenophilia, at the expense of the American born-and-raised scientists the pharma industry is so fond of discarding.