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A decade of innovation in pharmaceutical R&D: the Chorus model


Chorus is a small, operationally independent clinical development organization within Eli Lilly and Company that specializes in drug development from candidate selection to clinical proof of concept. The mission of Chorus is to achieve proof of concept rapidly and at a low cost while positioning successful projects for 'pharma-quality' late-stage development. Chorus uses a small internal staff of experienced drug developers and a network of external vendors to design and implement chemistry, manufacturing and control processes, preclinical toxicology and biology, and Phase I/II clinical trials. In the decade since it was established, Chorus has demonstrated substantial productivity improvements in both time and cost compared to traditional pharmaceutical research and development. Here, we describe its development philosophy, organizational structure, operational model and results to date.

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Figure 1: The quick-win, fast-fail model.
Figure 2: Summary of characteristics of the Chorus portfolio.
Figure 3: Time and cost of Chorus programmes.
Figure 4: Ten years of portfolio flow through Chorus.


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Since its inception in 2002, Chorus has benefited enormously from the people of Chorus, both past and present. This story would not have been possible without the vision, leadership, creativity, passion and talent of so many people. We gratefully acknowledge and thank them all for their contributions. Our story would also not be possible without our many collaborators and partners: external vendors, consultants, key opinion leaders and clinical trial site staff are all part of the Chorus story and we thank them too. A key part of our success has also relied on visionaries and leaders within Lilly; we thank our key supporters for many years of continued collaboration. Particular recognition is deserved by A. Bingham, N. Bodick and M. Clayman who originated, advanced and nurtured the original Chorus concept. I. Wilding, A. Schacht, S. Paul and the referees are gratefully acknowledged for contributions to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Paul K. Owens.

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Owens, P., Raddad, E., Miller, J. et al. A decade of innovation in pharmaceutical R&D: the Chorus model. Nat Rev Drug Discov 14, 17–28 (2015).

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