The University of Cambridge announces a new partnership with AstraZeneca and the Medical Research Council (MRC) that will establish a new state-of-the-art functional genomics laboratory at the Milner Therapeutics Institute. This marks a significant step forward in our mission to combine the strengths of academia and business to accelerate the development of therapies.
The lab, which is expected to become operational in early 2025, will become part of the UK’s Human Functional Genomics Initiative. This is a key commitment in the Life Sciences Vision to support world class research and innovation in functional genomics and will contribute to the UK’s ambition of having the most advanced genomic healthcare system in the world.
The facility will provide researchers from across the UK with access to large-scale biological and technological tools and house an advanced automated arrayed-CRISPR screening platform. It is hoped that through the use of tools, such as CRISPR gene editing to provide insights into the relationship between genes and disease, scientists will discover new opportunities to develop therapies for chronic diseases including cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic disease.
The new partnership builds upon expertise gained through an existing collaboration between AstraZeneca, the MTI and Cancer Research Horizons, known as the Joint AstraZeneca-Cancer Research Horizons Functional Genomics Centre (FGC) that has been enabling advances in oncology research since 2018. The FGC is currently housed in the MTI and will be relocating later in the year.
The best science is founded on collaboration, and I am delighted that the Milner Therapeutics Institute is partnering with the MRC and AstraZeneca to launch this unique functional genomics laboratory. This will enable sharing of expertise and resources to deliver new diagnostics and treatments for people with chronic diseases.
Professor Tony Kouzarides, Director, Milner Therapeutics Institute, University of Cambridge
This new collaboration with AstraZeneca and MRC is a fantastic example of industry and academia working together to drive forward science that will have a real impact on people’s health in the UK and around the world.
Professor Andy Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations, University of Cambridge
Collaboration is crucial to achieving our ambition of transforming healthcare and delivering life-changing medicines for patients, and innovative partnership such as this one, allow us to share resources and expertise to advance science. This new laboratory, created as part of the Human Functional Genomics Initiative, will be world-leading and will play a central role in shaping future functional genomics work across the UK and beyond.
Sharon Barr, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca
We are working across UK Research and Innovation to improve health, ageing and wellbeing. Our investment in this new laboratory builds on the UK’s global leadership in genomics. Our support will enable the laboratory’s launch and provide access for researchers from across the UK. Through this investment, and the wider Human Functional Genomics Initiative, we will enhance the national ecosystem needed to improve our understanding of how genetic variance impacts health and disease.
Dr Jonathan Pearce, Director of Strategy and Planning, MRC