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Lilly CEO Stresses Human Element in Driving Medical Innovation
Date:1/14/2010

15-year-old American students rank poorly against other countries
  • Average scores for 12th graders in the sciences have declined, and  
  • The number of U.S. college students pursuing bachelor's degrees in science, technology, engineering and math is insufficient to meet future demands.

  • Lechleiter called for "a common effort as a society to develop whole new generations of Americans with knowledge and skills in math and science, a large pool from which great scientists and breakthrough ideas will emerge."

    Turning to immigration policy, Lechleiter stated that the very best scientists are needed in pharmaceutical research.  Currently, he said, many of the top candidates emerging from graduate schools in the U.S. are neither citizens nor permanent residents, and they run up against severe limits on the number of H1B visas.

    "We must fix the policies that are driving away talented people who want to live here and contribute to our economy," said Lechleiter. "This does not require drastic changes, just a sensible increase in visas for these highly skilled immigrants and a shorter, simpler process to get a green card."

    Refuting arguments that such policies take jobs away from Americans, Lechleiter stated that the best minds in science lead to strong businesses that help create jobs and drive innovation. "It surely beats the alternative," he said, "talented people returning to their native country or going elsewhere to start or help a foreign firm to compete against us."

    Lechleiter also called for a long-term commitment to steady federal research funding, particularly for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and other agencies that pursue and support basic research and train young scientists.

    Lechleiter said that the academic and government research has "historically operated synergistically with the private biopharmaceutical sector,
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    SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company
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