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Lilly, Fairbanks School of Public Health launch diabetes pilot program in Indianapolis

For Immediate Release May 1, 2018
IUPUI campus with Indianapolis skyline

INDIANAPOLIS – Eli Lilly and Company and Indiana University’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI announced today the launch of a new neighborhood-based, data-driven pilot in Indianapolis to help address the high incidence of diabetes. Building on similar efforts Lilly has developed in lower-income communities in Mexico, India and South Africa, the $7 million, five-year program will focus on three Indianapolis neighborhoods with significant health disparities and high rates of diabetes: the Coalition of Northeast Neighborhoods, Northwest Neighborhood and Near Westside Neighborhood.

Life expectancy in these three communities can be 14 years lower than in neighborhoods just 10 miles away. The lower life expectancy rate is largely due to health disparities and is similar to rates seen in countries such as Iraq and Bangladesh.

This pilot in Indianapolis neighborhoods will target people with diabetes or at risk for the disease. The three communities were selected based on high prevalence of diabetes, socio-economic factors and highly engaged community members and organizations.

Globally, 425 million people have diabetes, with a prevalence rate of 8.4 percent. In the three target neighborhoods in Indianapolis, an estimated 10,000 people live with diabetes, and prevalence rates are as high as 17.5 percent. 

“Despite all our strengths and assets, Indiana ranks 38th among states for overall health status,” said Dave A. Ricks, Lilly chairman and CEO. “Through this effort, we are applying what we’ve learned from our global health work in underserved communities around the world with the expertise of our local partners and the passion of the people living in these neighborhoods. Together we’re going to find new solutions for closing these health disparity gaps.”

Lilly and Indiana University’s Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI are implementing the pilot with Eskenazi Health, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Indianapolis (LISC) and the Marion County Public Health Department. Borrowing from Lilly’s global health efforts, the pilot will deploy a model that uses newly hired community health care workers to help identify people with diabetes and connect them with quality care. In addition, community members will help identify and propose solutions for cultural, social, environmental, economic and policy barriers that increase the risk for diabetes, such as the lack of healthy food options and public spaces for exercise. 

“This cross-sector, community-focused partnership lies at the heart of our mission to translate research into solutions that improve lives,” said Nasser H. Paydar, Chancellor of IUPUI. “By investing in the fabric of these three Indianapolis communities through diabetes prevention and management, we will be working to improve health outcomes in Indiana and hopefully beyond.”

Lilly and its partners are testing the hypothesis that the implementation of a multi-pronged community health worker model will reduce complications for those with diabetes and reduce risk factors for people at high risk of developing diabetes by:

  • Increasing screening-seeking behavior for those at high risk
  • Improving access and continuity of care for people with diabetes
  • Fostering a physical and social environment that supports diabetes control and prevention, such as better access to healthy food and exercise options.  

The pilot uses Lilly’s global health framework, which includes studying key research questions, reporting what works and what doesn’t, and then using the data to advocate for the scale up of the most effective solutions. The program will contribute to Lilly 30x30, the company’s goal to create new access to quality health care for 30 million people in underserved communities every year by 2030.

The pilot has the potential for adoption by the Eskenazi Health system in Indiana, as well as other communities and health systems across the U.S. It also directly supports the newly signed Indiana bill that requires the development of a statewide strategic action plan to significantly reduce the prevalence of diabetes.

“Eskenazi Health has neighborhood health centers in each of these communities,” said Dawn Haut, M.D., a pediatrician and CEO of Eskenazi Health Center, the primary care division of Eskenazi Health. “We’re eager to deepen our partnership with the residents of these neighborhoods to improve education about diabetes and to connect people to the care they need. We think this approach has broad application across our entire Eskenazi Health system.”

“I worked hard to pass the new Indiana diabetes legislation because I do not want the next generation of kids to grow up in a food desert with no healthy choices at our markets and too little information about diabetes,” said Indiana State Representative Vanessa Summers. “This is the type of public-private-community collaboration we need to address complex challenges like diabetes.”

People living in the three Indianapolis communities can sign up to receive information about the diabetes pilot by visiting

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Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health

Amanda Briggs

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