AstraZeneca today marked a key milestone in its successful move to Cambridge with the ‘topping out’ of its new strategic R & D centre and global corporate HQ at the heart of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
The company, including its biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, already has 2,000 employees actively engaged in the city’s vibrant scientific, academic, clinical and business community. Occupation of the site will begin in stages in 2018.
The ‘topping out’ milestone represents the completion of the new building’s concrete frame, as the focus of construction work now turns to installing the roof, external glass cladding and starting the internal fit out.
The event was celebrated by CEO Pascal Soriot and Mene Pangalos, executive VP for Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit and Business Development. They were joined by Professor Duncan Maskell, senior pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Cambridge, as well as neighbouring scientific collaboration partners and construction teams.
The building has been co-designed by the company’s scientists and world-leading architects Herzog & de Meuron with the open architecture reflecting AstraZeneca’s collaborative approach to research.
Open laboratories and transparent glass walls will enable new ways of working across disciplines and with external partners, whilst a central courtyard, open to the public, will put science on full display.
The site will become AstraZeneca’s largest centre globally for oncology research, as well as housing scientists focused on respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
The proximity and high concentration of leading scientific organisations at the CBC, across Cambridge and the region create the ideal conditions for sharing knowledge, skills and expertise – and ultimately for pushing the boundaries of science. For example:-
- The new R & D site will house a joint research centre with the Medical Research Council, where partnering scientists will work side-by-side with AstraZeneca’s high throughput screening group.
- AstraZeneca’s drug discovery scientists are working with Microsoft to use a cloud-based simulation that brings alive the millions of potential changes that make cancer cells multiply uncontrollably, to better understand the disease.
- Similarly, scientists from MedImmune and Cancer Research UK are working together to discover and develop novel biologics to treat cancer. Together they have isolated a novel target associated with leukaemia and recently started an exciting project looking at the best drug combinations to treat pancreatic cancer.
- A novel agreement is also in place that will give researchers from the University of Cambridge access to key compounds from the AstraZeneca drugs pipeline.
Pascal Soriot said: “Our new global HQ and strategic R & D site embodies AstraZeneca’s innovation-led transformation and I am delighted to mark this milestone, which signals our progress in advancing a world-class environment where science can thrive.
“As a long-standing investor in UK science, we believe Cambridge offers a tremendously vibrant academic and life-sciences ecosystem that can truly catalyse discovery and innovation.
“Together with our partners, we will push the boundaries of science to deliver innovative medicines that transform patient care around the world.”
• PHOTOGRAPH: Hats off to AstraZeneca – (from left) Professor Duncan Maskell (University of Cambridge), Anders Danielsson (Skansa), Pascal Soriot, (AstraZeneca), Mene Pangalos, (AstraZeneca)