Barry Crist is the Lead Investigator for the Lilly Clinical Open Innovation Team. Barry has spent his career leveraging information to transform the way people do work. He is a technologist, an architect, a seeker, a problem solver – and has a passion-fueled vision that drives a unique ability to make big ideas come to life.
What personally drew you to the Lilly Clinical Open Innovation project?
Taking information or knowledge and making it useful has been my whole career – making information better so that people’s lives will be better. I’ve seen it work.
For many years, I worked at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site. This is a 300 square-mile facility with multiple nuclear reactors and chemical processing facilities. It was my job to digitize half a million paper engineering drawings (blueprints, essentially) and make them smarter. This gave engineers and scientists immediate access to digitized knowledge about the massive facilities – where is a valve, what’s connected to a panel. You can imagine why that’s important.
Prior to that, people had to request the prints, search through them…it took a long time to get the job done.
In pharma development, the “drawings” are the clinical trials. In their current state, they’re a big pile of poorly digitized, unstructured, disconnected papers, files and databases. If the end at Eli Lilly is, “Let’s develop products that make people’s lives better and improve their health,” then the means to that end, for me, is to develop those products faster and better. And we can do that – if we manage the knowledge better. And managing the knowledge better, as I learned at the DOE, starts with digitization.