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2016 Distinguished Alumni

B.S. Bacteriology ’61, Ph.D. Microbiology, '67

John G. Whitney graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Ponca City, Okla. in 1957. He began his university studies at Northern Oklahoma College, where he obtained a Junior College Certificate in general science. He moved on to OSU, earning a B.S. in bacteriology and establishing a relationship with professor Ed Grula, who would be instrumental in him obtaining a graduate fellowship. With mentoring from Dr. Grula, he completed studies for his Ph.D. in microbiology.


Dr. Whitney joined the fermentation research labs of Eli Lilli & Co. in 1967, where his studies involved the biosynthesis of various antibiotics. In 1971 he was promoted to head of the fermentation research labs. As an adjunct to this promotion, he attended the executive training program at the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University.


During the ensuing years, Dr. Whitney held a variety of managerial positions in the research and development labs, covering the many aspects of human and animal drug discovery and development. As Lilly diversified through acquisitions of cosmetic and medical instrument companies, he was instrumental with integrating the various R&D components, looking for the synergy that would benefit all groups. Dr. Whitney was a leading member of the joint venture agreements Lilly had with several Japanese pharmaceutical companies. His contacts in Japan also included a number of university labs.


He has held membership in the American Society for Microbiology, Phi Lambda Upsilon, and Sigma Xi. Dr. Whitney retired as Vice President of the Lilly Research labs.

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