WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — When you give your child a key medicine to make them feel better, did you ever think about what it took to create that medicine?
Because it’s not like whipping up a new recipe in the kitchen.
“It may take five, six years of study before you can appreciate whether a new drug will actually be effective,” says Eric Tomlinson. “That’s a long journey, it requires many volunteers and clinical trial participants.”
Tomlinson is not just the president of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, he is also the chief innovation officer at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“So many advances in clinical medicine today, so much opportunity and each one of those opportunities requires a clinical study,” says Tomlinson.
Kelly Johnston McKee works at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and she says most people she meets are open to being in a trial.
“The main problem is that people just don’t know about them and they don’t know that it could be an option for them to participate,” says Johnston McKee.
So she and her colleagues at Eli Lilly had an idea: Let’s make something that will be in front of people, all the time, that might get them thinking about being in a trial.
The idea they came up with is a piece of artwork with parts designed by former clinical trial patients.
“This is called the Heroes Journey art – because people who are going through clinical trials are on a journey,” says the main artist, John Magnan. “They depart on the journey with a diagnosis so the first sculpture is called, ‘Departure.’ Then they are initiated through the trials and challenges of their journey and the second sculpture is called, ‘Initiation.’ But then they return, they come back to themselves with an awareness and acceptance of their situation and that’s why this sculpture is called, ‘Return,’ it’s the end of the heroes journey. They’ve made the complete cycle of departing, initiating and then returning.”
See the final installment, “Return,” which will be on permanent display at the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, in this edition of the Buckley Report.