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AstraZeneca marks a key milestone


AstraZeneca has made a successful move to Cambridge, UK, with the ‘topping out’ of its new strategic R&D centre and global corporate headquarters at the heart of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC).

The company, including its biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, already has 2 000 employees actively engaged in the city’s 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 building has been co-designed by the company’s scientists and architects Herzog & de Meuron with the open architecture reflecting AstraZeneca’s collaborative approach to research, reports the company. 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 new strategic R&D 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. Currently they are collaborating on 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, CEO of AstraZeneca: “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.”

Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge: “We welcome AstraZeneca’s move to Cambridge, a decision that will further strengthen our existing links and undoubtedly foster new collaborations. Their scientific, research, entrepreneurial and business strengths will make a significant contribution to the Cambridge ecosystem, and in particular the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, the centrepiece of the largest biotech cluster outside the United States. Their new building is a testament to the importance academic life-science centres like Cambridge play in the translation of research into innovations that solve complex healthcare challenges in the UK and around the world.”


Skanska: “We work with AstraZeneca in a number of countries, creating world-class healthcare facilities. This global HQ is our latest project together. The project has created hundreds of local jobs and work for the supply chain in the region. To date, we have completed over 2 million man hours on the build. Topping out is an important milestone in the process – a traditional celebration in construction that signifies the building has reached full height.”