November 28, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Cambridge, UK, 28 November 2016 - MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and a consortium of universities—the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield—today announced they will be afforded a Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP), structured as 12 PhD studentships, from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).  

Funded by the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the BBSRC is the lead funding agency for academic research and training in the biosciences at universities and institutes throughout the UK. The CTP studentships are designed to invest in the training of the next generation of scientists for the wider bioeconomy and research base, providing access to facilities and expertise unavailable in an academic setting alone.  Working collaboratively, MedImmune and its academic partners will co-locate the four-year-long studentships at their respective facilities—including MedImmune’s Cambridge site—to advance discovery and development in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy.   

Under the BBSRC sponsored programme, students will benefit from:

  • Joint Exposure to Industry and Academia: Students will work with both leading industry scientists and academic investigators across diverse departments;
  • Access to Key Research Facilities: Students will undertake their research in state-of-the-art laboratories at the four partner universities and MedImmune’s Cambridge facility — one of the biotech’s three sites focused on the research and early development of biologics;
  • Working in a Collaborative Environment: In addition to mobility between the host universities and MedImmune, the students will also benefit from working as a cohort, with an opportunity to interact with each other as well as those involved in various parts of the drug discovery and development process; 
  • Addressing priority training needs: The partnerships will provide exposure to upstream and downstream bioprocessing, cell sciences, formulation and analytical science, drug delivery, in silico modelling and automation.

The CTP will build on already established research partnerships at MedImmune to support product and technology development and is consistent with MedImmune and AstraZeneca’s commitment to partnering with others around the world, including academia, to advance the best science. The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in Darlington will join the consortium to add expertise in the development of next generation products and processes and advise on future bioprocessing trends and capabilities.

“Collaborating to create new avenues for the exchange of innovative ideas is a critical part of drug discovery and development — a key reason why we’re so thrilled to mobilise our current UK bilateral collaborations across this large, multi-year research consortium," said Paul Varley, Vice President of Science and Collaborations in Biopharmaceutical Development at MedImmune.  "We’re honoured that BBSRC has afforded us this opportunity to offer a world-class training environment for the next generation of biopharmaceutical scientists, extend core capabilities in bioprocessing and analysis, and embrace new thinking, allowing science to thrive and ultimately deliver life-changing medicines to patients."

The first round of studentships will commence in October 2017, and two additional intakes will follow in October 2018 and 2019. Information for perspective applicants to the CTP studentships will be made available on postgraduate studentship boards before the end of this year, as well as through the respective universities.

Professor David James, Director of the Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre at the University of Sheffield, is delighted to be part of the consortium. “This investment in talented young researchers will enhance our ability to create advanced manufacturing systems for next generation biological medicines”, he said, “MedImmune has a strong commitment to developing life-changing therapies, and our expertise here at Sheffield can help them do that.”

About MedImmune
MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across Oncology, Respiratory, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases, and Infection and Vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md., one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centres, with additional sites in Cambridge, UK and Mountain View, CA. For more information, please visit

MedImmune Cambridge has strong collaborative links with numerous academics, researchers, foundations and neighbouring companies in the largest biotech cluster in Europe and has an active outreach programme within the local community

About the University of Sheffield
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities. A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in. In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields. Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

About AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three main therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases and Respiratory. The Company also is selectively active in the areas of autoimmunity, neuroscience and infection. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @AstraZeneca.

Rebecca Einhorn, MedImmune
+1 301-398-1802

Karen Wood, University of Sheffield
Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre Manager

+44 114 222 9605

Karen Birmingham, AstraZeneca
+44 203 749 5634