Guest Post: Spotlighting the heroes in clinical trials

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor May 3, 2017


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Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view. Views represented here may not be those of PhRMA, though they are no less key to a healthy dialogue on issues in health care today.

We are pleased to share a blog post from Eli Lilly and Company in celebration of Clinical Trials Awareness Week. The post was originally featured at LillyPad.

“A clinical trial is its own hero’s journey.  People give up something to possibly get something in return. They are coming to terms with changes in their own lives and have set out to find a new beginning.”

These powerful words are the sentiment of artist John Magnan, who is creating three large wooden sculptures to honor participants in clinical research. Sponsored by Lilly, the sculptures are being built collectively by the clinical research community: patients, their families and friends, medical teams, caregivers and researchers. We call it Hero’s Journey Art. 

Through the sponsorship, Lilly hopes to bring attention to the importance of clinical trials, the people who participate in them, and the continued great need for more participants.

Every year, some 2 million people complete their participation in all sorts of research, part of their own hero's journey to seek wellness and contribute to science. Yet there is very little awareness of that vast contribution. We aim to change that in part through this initiative.

People in clinical trials are on a journey that begins when their everyday life is dramatically altered by a diagnosis or condition. It continues as they bravely choose to join a study and concludes with their personal adjustment and return to a new life. The three sculptures in the series symbolize trail markers on that journey, and are named for each of the three phases: Departure, Initiation, and Return.

In March, the first of the installations was celebrated at the LiveStrong Foundation in Austin, Texas.


The sculptures will eventually be displayed at three locations around the country, and will include a total of 1000 wood bricks personalized by patients, their families and friends, medical teams, caregivers, and researchers.


Lilly is committed to making clinical trials an accessible healthcare option for patients. One way we are realizing this goal is by raising awareness of clinical research amongst the general public. The Hero’s Journey Art Project is an example of this commitment.

To learn more about this unique project visit www.herosjourneyart.com. And we invite you join us in honoring clinical research participants by sharing your own “thank you” to the clinical trial community using #herosjourneyart in social media.

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Topics: Clinical Trials