Alzheimer's Research & Development:
A Story of Resilience, Collaboration, Learning and Informed Hope

May 21, 2020
Phyllis Barkman Ferrell
Global Head of External Engagement
for Alzheimer's Disease and Neurodegneration

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Program Description and Bio

Description: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a relentless, fatal disease creating a health crisis for patients, families and our nation. Current treatment options are limited to symptomatic treatment and they do not work for everyone. Alzheimer's is the only one of the top six diseases affecting Americans where there is no treatment to prevent, cure or slow Alzheimer's disease. And though the National Institutes of Health funding has increased ten-fold over the last several years, the path to a treatment is slow and arduous. While the development and regulatory hurdles are steep, they are only part of the challenge in Alzheimer's disease. Our current healthcare system is ill equipped to deliver improved patient outcomes today and will not allow new therapies to efficiently reach the patients that will benefit most.

While there have been no positive late-stage studies of investigational medicines in the last decade, the scientific advancement and understanding of AD progression and diagnosis has shifted our knowledge of the disease significantly and led to increased drug development targeting populations in the earliest stages of disease. Through the advance of brain imaging, we now know that the hallmark pathologies of AD can occur in the brain up to 20 years before symptoms.

Although these new study designs represent meaningful advancement, this opportunity exists within a paradigm of well-established beliefs and habits that are anchored in a late orientation. This orientation doesn’t reflect the evolving scientific understanding of Alzheimer's Disease and the promise that treating earlier than we do today will translate to better patient outcomes. Ironically, the late orientation also slows down the advancement of research, as most diagnoses occur well past the stage of clinical trial availability – our current healthcare system approach is suboptimal for care today and is slowing down progress for future treatments.

This presentation on Alzheimer's disease research will include a description of the disease process, the difference between AD and normal aging and provide an overview of the opportunities that are available through clinical trials. The presentation will also cover the discrepancies between care today and work towards a cure for tomorrow and highlight the resources that are available now to ensure that people living with AD and their families receive the greatest care and support possible.

Bio: Phyllis Barkman Ferrell

Phyllis Ferrell is the Global Head of External Engagement for Alzheimer's disease and Neurodegeneration at Eli Lilly & Company, where she previously served as the leader of the Global Alzheimer's disease development team. Ferrell’s most recent prior position was Vice President of the Chief Commercial Services Officer for Eli Lilly and Company.

Ferrell has been with Lilly for more than 25 years and has held many leadership roles throughout the organization. She has led efforts in medical affairs, medical development, commercial capabilities, sales, marketing, recruiting, business development, strategy, transformation, Six Sigma, and corporate financial planning.

Ferrell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and management with minors in computational mathematics and Asian studies from DePauw University. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with Magna Cum Laude honors in 1994. She received an MBA in general management and a certificate in public management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2001 and graduated with both Arjay Miller Scholar honors and as the Arbuckle Award recipient.

Phyllis was recognized with the Rising Star Award from the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association and the Indianapolis Star Top 40 Under 40. Phyllis is a current member of the World Dementia Council. She is also a member of the Indiana Chapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association; on the Boards of Directors for the Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, Stanford Associate Board of Governors, Indianapolis 500 Festival, and the Lebanon Area Boys & Girls Club. Phyllis is a founding member of Women Against Alzheimer's and Women of Impact Boone County; co-chair of the Women's Leadership Council; the alumna sponsor of the Women in Economics and Business Program at DePauw University; a member of the Washington C. DePauw Society; an active supporter of Boone County Special Olympics; and a coach's wife and mother of two very active boys (ages 17 and 13).