Martin Johnson, PhD

Eli Lilly
VP - Engineering, Synthetic Molecule Design and Development
Martin D. Johnson is VP Engineering at Eli Lilly and Company in Synthetic Molecule Design and Development. He received his dual doctorate in chemical engineering and environmental engineering from the University of Michigan in 2000, and his undergraduate in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech. Prior to joining Eli Lilly in 2005, he worked as a process research engineer at Union Carbide and The Dow Chemical Company in the Engineering Sciences and Market Development department, focusing on process development and separations. At Eli Lilly, Dr. Johnson leads a group of engineers who focus on design and development of continuous processes. Dr. Johnson’s group has used continuous reactions in the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients for highly exothermic and hazardous reactions, high pressure reactions with hazardous gas reagent like hydrogenations, chemistries at extreme temperatures and pressures, and process separations including distillation, extraction, crystallization, and filtration. Eli Lilly has implemented his continuous processes for the production of active pharmaceutical ingredient in cGMP manufacturing both internally at the Lilly facility in Ireland and externally in multiple contract manufacturing organizations. Dr. Johnson’s team has enabled safe scale up of previously forbidden chemistries. They invented the vertical bubble-flow pipes-in-series reactor for continuous high-pressure gas/liquid reactions that safely runs high pressure H2 and O2 at manufacturing scale. They created a new technology for safer Grignard reaction using Mg-sequestering-continuous-stirred-tank-reactors (CSTRs). They developed fully continuous processes, akin to assembly lines with all reaction, workup, and purification steps running simultaneously. Cytotoxic APIs were produced in disposable equipment to eliminate cross-contamination potential, contained in hoods to protect people. When the SMDD portfolio shifted in 2017 and in 2020 to include peptides and oligonucleotides respectively, Dr. Johnson led his team to immediately apply their continuous processing tools, automation, and expertise to improve tides syntheses. He received the 2016 ACS Award for Affordable Green Chemistry for work with continuous aerobic oxidations, the 2016 AIChE Award for Outstanding Contribution to QbD for Drug Substance for implementation of continuous processes, and the 2021 Practice Award in the Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division of AIChE for design and application of new continuous reactors.