Curiosity and Innovation

Courtney Gale, Bryant University '19

Editor's note: Lilly Diabetes is a CDN Corporate Member. CDN student members were able to participate in this tour as a result of the relationship between Lilly Diabetes and CDN. To learn more about Corporate Membership click here.


About a month ago, a member of the College Diabetes Network (CDN) staff reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in touring the Lilly Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA. All I really knew about the Eli Lilly Company was that their logo was on my insulin vials and pens. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but decided to go and was excited to learn more about them!

The day arrived and I made it into Cambridge, then met up with the others from CDN. The layout of the building was so unique, it had a very relaxed, clean and focused vibe. They started the day off by giving us a presentation about the company. It explained how they focus on immunology, oncology, neuropsychological disorders, and diabetes. They work on creating new methods of treatment, like insulin, and want to expand to focus on devices to help alleviate social and physical discomfort and anxiety. One thing that stood out the most to me, was the focus that the engineers and scientists put on not only creating something to cure, or help treat these different illnesses, but how they focused on making sure the people using them would be happier, safer, and more comfortable in various situations.

After the presentation and a yummy lunch, we went into a conference room with a variety of scientists, engineers, and other employees of the company. We were able to talk to them about what it’s like living day to day with T1D in college and how there’s a severe lack of education and awareness. They then asked us questions about different scenarios like speaking to professors, talking to roommates, dating, and how we feel in scenarios like injecting insulin in public, checking our blood sugars in public, as well as how devices like the CGM and insulin pumps make us feel. The way they were so curious and interested to learn more about the people they were working to help was really uplifting. Everyone seemed genuine and were taking notes on how we answered to ensure that their products would appeal to us.

We then got to tour the building, including the workspaces and labs. We walked into the first lab, and I saw one of the machines had a vial of insulin underneath that it had just been working on. I felt this indescribable happiness and hope, seeing so many scientists working countless hours each week to help people be able to treat, and hopefully someday, cure their chronic conditions! They couldn’t get into details about current projects, but after seeing and talking to the staff, I’m hopeful and know that we’re in good hands!

We then went upstairs to the second lab, which they call the wet lab, because it’s weherethe chemists and scientists work with formulas of different chemicals. This was the lab where my insulin was made, this is the lab where they work day in and day out to make the lives of millions easier one step at a time. It was so surreal! Not to mention they had a balcony that had a breathtaking view of Boston right outside, and a big kitchen for all those snack and lunch breaks!

Overall, touring and meeting the staff from the Eli Lilly Company was a truly amazing experience, and I can’t wait to see the impact they’ll have on millions in years to come! Special thank you to the College Diabetes Network for coordinating this visit, I’m so grateful.

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 CDN is singularly focused on providing young adults with T1D the peer connections they value, and expert resources they need, to successfully manage the challenging transition to independence at college and beyond.

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