Imperial College London is uniting once again with long-term partner AstraZeneca to lay the foundations for new medical breakthroughs and publications in leading journals.

The collaboration will see the College foster closer links with the pharmaceutical industry, with researchers from multiple faculties working with AstraZeneca scientists to explore new avenues of fundamental research.

Funding breakthrough science

As part of the partnership, the pharmaceutical firm will provide investment over a five-year period through the AstraZeneca-Imperial College Innovation Fund to support early-stage research across a number of areas, including treatments for cancer, coughs and infertility.

AstraZeneca will provide £1million over five years, which will be matched by the College, as well as funding two research fellows each year from 2018. The innovation fund will provide support for a number of projects each year, as part of Imperial’s Joint Translation Fund. To further facilitate the promising academic-industry work, the collaboration also includes access for Imperial researchers to AstraZeneca’s labs and research facilities.

The arrangement has mutual benefits for both the College and AstraZeneca, and the enthusiasm for the collaboration is echoed from both sides:

We are excited to be collaborating with scientists from Imperial College to help translate innovative science into novel technologies or medicines.

Menelas Pangalos

Executive Vice President at AstraZeneca

We are delighted to be working with AstraZeneca. This partnership will allow our researchers to explore new ideas which may in time lead to therapeutic opportunities.

Professor Jonathan Weber

Vice Dean of the Faculty of Medicine


The Faculty of Medicine Corporate Partnership team has played a crucial role in the ideation and facilitation of this project since 2013, including scoping and relationship management.

Projects involved within the Faculty of Medicine

  • Dr Charlotte Dodson will focus on protein kinases and will explore how these key biological regulators carry out their role by focusing on the dynamics of the enzyme in solution, measuring how the enzyme switches between its active and inactive states and how this is changed by anti-kinase drugs.

  • Dr Nadia Guerra will target the outer cell membrane receptor NKG2D. The research will explore whether suppressing this receptor could help to reduce the growth of tumours by reducing inflammation, which could potentially lead to new treatments for some types of cancer.

  • Professor Maria Belvisi will focus on ion channel receptors and their link with chronic coughing, for which there are currently no licenced drugs. Her group will explore whether molecules that inhibit TRPV4 or its activation can break this cycle, calming the respiratory reflex by reducing symptoms and inflammation.

  • Dr Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami will use an existing library of ‘tags’ from AstraZeneca to find which genes are involved in regulating the growth of rogue cells in tumours. The research could identify new therapeutic targets for treating ovarian cancer.

  • Dr Channa Jayasena will focus on male infertility and will explore whether an experimental compound can improve the function of sperm in men with obesity by blocking the action of a key enzyme.

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