In October 2021, Brandeis alum Eric Moyal ’17, M.A. ’18, M.S. ’22 founded the nonprofit Project Insulin. He first thought of the idea when he learned from his partner, who has Type 1 Diabetes, about the patent of insulin recently expiring after being unchanged for 30 years. 

Historically, a 30-day supply of insulin costs around $60 out-of-pocket. Moyal hopes to cut out manufacturers who are looking to make a profit. In the long run, Project Insulin plans to build an endowment to subsidize the price of insulin. “If we can make the insulin ourselves and cut out some of the middle organizations like pharmacy benefit managers, wholesalers [and] manufacturers who are focused on profit, we can create generic insulin and get it to patients at the lowest possible price,” he said in a Dec. 4 interview with The Justice.

Currently, the project is in its fundraising stage to raise the money necessary to begin drug development. “Pending a grant that we're expecting, by the end of the year, we'll have raised $100,000,” he said. “We've raised a lot of money just from family, friends, people who have followed us along the way. I think that number is closer to 8000, maybe $9,000,” he said. $400k would begin this process and sustain one year of drug development. After that, the insulin would need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and an ideal timeline would lapse five years from development to approval.

The University has been a large part of Moyal’s journey to starting Project Insulin. He got both his business degree and master's degrees in International  Economics and Finance and Strategic Analytics from Brandeis. After graduating, he learned to raise money at Brandeis while working in fundraising for student scholarships. He became passionate about healthcare and has experience raising awareness, especially because his sister suffers from a rare illness.

Through his journey of launching the project, Moyal has been in touch with other groups attempting to create insulin. He spoke with the former Chief Executive Officer of CivicaRX another group making their own insulin, about having multiple groups developing the same medicine. “You know, it's a supply shortage that we have to deal with, and one company can't deal with that shortage,” Moyal said, quoting the CEO. “'Competition is good, right, it brings prices down.'” He emphasized the importance of partnering with other organizations to make the product cheaper for consumers. 

The team is currently all volunteer-based and hinges on funding and volunteers. “We have a Brandeis student who's helping, [and] Northeastern [University], Johnson and Wales [University] in Rhode Island, students across as well. Now we got one from Carnegie Mellon [University],” he said. “But our goal would be in the next year, you know, we raised that 400k, we can start the early stages of drug development.” 

Moyal has encountered challenges, particularly in getting the idea off the ground as a solo founder. “I have a wonderful group of volunteers and, and mentor them aboard and all these people. ... But it's really hard to share and discuss just how hard it is to go through the ups and the downs,” he explained. “A lot of people are very passionate about [making generic insulin]. But the, like, nuanced day-to-day living of Product Insulin is different.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to not just make insulin affordable but to also change the way healthcare is approached in America. “The mission is to make insulin affordable for everyone,” Moyal said. “The long-term vision is to prove that we can make generic drugs through a nonprofit model.” 

With his experience with the project, Moyal encourages students to pursue their ideas and lean on the people around them from professors to peers. “It's hard to do this, you know, take a leap and create something yourself, whether it's a business or advocacy or whatever it might be,” he said. “Get their support, because once you do, it feels like you're on top of the world ... that's just a really special feeling.” With the help that Moyal has received from Brandeis, volunteers and healthcare organizations, Project Insulin is gaining traction.