ELITE Transformational Leader Yolanda Johnson-Moton of Eli Lilly and Company

Yolanda Johnson-Moton

Director – External Relations U.S. Medical Affairs

Eli Lilly and Company



Educating Pharma’s Next Generation of Partners

At Eli Lilly and Company, the person tasked with handling the company’s partnerships with external stakeholders was meant to be just that—one person. But over the course of her time in the position, Yolanda Johnson-Moton transformed what was an individual contributor role into a small organization. Now she leads a team dedicated to carrying out her vision, which already includes some lofty achievements.

Yolanda has always been passionate about education, and one of her biggest accomplishments is the recent launch of an eLearning course titled, “Making Medicines: The Process of Drug Development” (http://bit.ly/1qGrht1). She developed the course in collaboration with a group of 10 academic advisors, who volunteered their time to review and contribute content. But its launch marks a significant milestone in the pharma industry. It makes Lilly the first pharmaceutical company to offer academic institutions a comprehensive elective course that integrates into a student’s existing training program.

The course itself is designed to examine the fundamental concepts and techniques of the drug development process. This is not a CME course, but something geared toward individuals interested in health-related fields with an emphasis on medical research. Ultimately, this type of course can be a game-changer as it has the ability to transform how the industry and academia collaborate on scientific education, and serves to enhance awareness of the industry and the roles of healthcare providers in the drug development process.

Prior to “Making Medicines,” Yolanda developed and launched two Medical Student Partnership Programs (four week medical rotation and 10 week summer medical internship) between Lilly USA and the academic medical community. During the programs, future physicians come to Lilly’s Indianapolis headquarters to gain hands-on experience in the drug discovery and development process. The pilot program only involved two academic medical schools, but its success has helped the program grow to include six academic institutions in just two years.

Yolanda is not just transforming how Lilly’s external relations department operates—she is changing pharma’s relationship with the next generation of doctors.


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