Driving sustainable growth through innovation
We are committed to driving scientific advances in small molecules, oligonucleotides and other emerging technology platforms to push the boundaries of medical science.
invested in scientific research each year
people with a passion for science
post doctorates globally
publications in scientific journals annually
Working across a range of therapy areas, our teams in the IMED Biotech Unit are focused on translating the really cool science that is happening in our labs into the next generation of medicines that patients need.Mene Pangalos, EVP, IMED Biotech Unit
Where science thrives
We are achieving scientific leadership through a dynamic, agile and entrepreneurial culture that feels like a biotech but has the resources of a major global pharmaceutical company.
Building our scientific reputation
Our scientists are encouraged to publish their work in peer reviewed journals. Demonstrating the quality of the research conducted in our labs, particularly in high quality and high impact journals is key to strengthening our scientific reputation and for recruiting and retaining the best scientists from around the world.
Demonstrating scientific leadership
Through a rigorous focus on great science, we have developed a robust clinical pipeline across our main therapy areas of oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity. We also continue to progress the most promising projects in neuroscience in collaboration with partners and in small molecule anti-infectives through our standalone company, Entasis Therapeutics.
Inspiring great scientists
Our scientific leadership ambition rests on our ability to attract and retain the best scientists. We continue to attract senior scientists from academia and industry, who are excited by the quality of our science, and the potential of our pipeline makes the IMED Biotech Unit a great place to work.
At the same time, we are committed to inspiring the next generation of scientists by giving them opportunities to develop their skills and follow the science they are passionate about.
Commitment to science
Our commitment to science is reflected in our track record of publications. View recent examples of high impact and high quality publications co-authored by AstraZeneca and/or MedImmune scientists.
Open for innovation
Our teams are leading the way in creating an open research environment that goes beyond the usual collaboration models.
Partnering with the best
Our agreements with the UK Medical Research Council, the National Institutes of Health in the US, and the National Research Program for Biopharmaceuticals in Taiwan, have enabled academic researchers to start unlocking the full potential of some of our discontinued compounds to develop new medicines for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
In addition, collaborations with renowned academic organisations such as Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and with leading charities and governmental organisations, including Cancer Research UK, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, are enabling our teams to work side-by-side with like-minded scientists who share our passion for transforming the lives of patients.
Every day, we’re pushing the boundaries of science - in our own laboratories and with our collaboration partners. The way we work with our research partners is open, innovative and science-focused.
But don’t take our word for it. Hear what our partners around the world have to say about working with AstraZeneca.
Collaborate with us
The best science doesn't happen in isolation. Our teams are leading the way in creating an open research environment that goes beyond the usual collaboration models.
Challenge conventional thinking
We believe in combining scientific rigour with a desire to always ask the “what if” question. It’s how we continue to push the boundaries of science.
The IMED Biotech Unit forged a unique new model to drive neuroscience innovation – the virtual neuroscience unit. This bold approach to research and development was designed to address the significant challenges the pharmaceutical industry faces in bringing new neuroscience medicines to market.
Preparing for the future
Delivering the next wave of life-changing medicines requires a new way of thinking. To ensure the IMED Biotech Unit remains at the cutting-edge of scientific innovation, we established our IMED Futures programme – a set of initiatives exploring the next generation of scientific development.
Advanced drug delivery
Our scientists are creating cutting edge drug delivery systems technology to support our ever expanding drug platforms. By focusing cellular targeting, improving cellular uptake and enhancing drug delivery, our teams is aiming to improve target efficacy to allow delivery of both small molecules and oligonucleotide therapeutics – miRNA, mRNA and antisense. We have already initiated collaborations with BIND Therapeutics for its ACCURINS® polymeric nanoparticle technology and with Starpharma exploring their dendrimer technology platform. Both these technologies hold the potential to improve therapeutic index and ability to formulate challenging molecules. Our research is always conducted in the most ethical and responsible way, upholding the highest possible standards of data privacy and security.
iLead in lead generation
How can IMED deliver a therapeutic agent for any portfolio target? The team is developing strategies that explore next- generation approaches to small molecule hit identification and the application of peptides and cyclic peptides as novel therapeutic modalities.
Organs on a chip
Complex cellular microphysiological systems (MPS), consisting of interacting organs-on-chips or tissue-engineered, 3D organ constructs, present an opportunity to bring new tools to biology, medicine, pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology. By placing them in a more ‘natural’ environment, MPS allows interacting human or animal cells to replicate the dynamics of drug-organ, drug-drug, and drug-organ-organ interactions to enable better prediction of clinical translation.
To enhance the impact of current online data monitoring, our teams have been exploring the possibilities provided by sensor technology and wearable devices. Incorporating biosensor technology into our pre-clinical studies will allow us to change current practice, improve translation and safety read-outs, while reducing the number of animal studies. Current technology allows measuring the body’s vital signs using health patches; we believe the future of pre-clinical monitoring lies with invasive biosensor technology to monitor drug exposure and biomarkers of safety and efficacy.
iDecide is a clinical informatics research and development framework enabling early and better decision-making in clinical studies. In collaboration with the Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC), iDecide is designed to integrate, maintain and assess data during an ongoing study utilising real time feedback from patients. Leveraging this patient-centric information in a timely manner enables appropriate adjustment to clinical trial design, saving resources and time while helping us administer the right dose, of the right drug to the right patient.
We are already seeing how the next generation of medicines are being shaped by our ability to capture, interpret and apply data. Combining insight from clinical health records with large-scale genomics data is enabling scientists to better predict disease outcomes in the clinic. Our team has been investigating connecting multiple data stacks from anywhere and of any type, from proprietary data to real world evidence, even social media platforms. This data helps us understand the interplay between ‘nature’ (from genetic information) and ‘nurture’ (environmental data) to make breakthroughs in science and ultimately patient care.
Pushing scientific boundaries
Key skills and capabilities in the IMED Biotech Unit
Translational science and biology
Our translational expertise enables us to accelerate the development of new ‘druggable’ targets in human disease and select the right patients in early clinical trials. By analysing disease tissue and applying bioinformatics approaches we are able to support the identification and validation of targets regulating biological processes.
Precision Medicine and Genomics
As leaders in precision medicine, we use diagnostics and biomarkers to match innovative medicines to patients most likely to benefit. Working with global partners, we combine industry-leading expertise with cutting edge technologies to apply innovative diagnostic tests in all therapy areas and phases of development. We harness the power of genomics, aiming to analyse 2 million genomes by 2026. We expect to transform drug discovery and development, uncover novel insights into the biology of disease, identify new drug targets, select patients for clinical trials and launch targeted medicines linked to diagnostic tests.
Our medicinal chemistry capabilities enable us to integrate structural, pharmacological, pharmacokinetic and toxicological information to support the innovative design of novel chemical compounds. Pushing the boundaries of medicinal chemistry enables the delivery of new candidate drugs into our pipeline and is the foundation of small molecule drug discovery across the company. We also work on next-generation devices and delivery through our pharmaceutical development group.
Our Early Clinical Development team designs and delivers early phase development strategies and exploratory studies that build the credentials of novel targets. Clinical Operations delivers global clinical trials for late stage projects across our pipeline, using both internal and external programme and study management expertise. Our leading expertise in large outcomes trials enables us to deliver multi-country, multi-site studies with thousands of patients, many of which include a personalised approach. Our Early Clinical Development team specialises in interpreting quantitative data analysis using the latest, model-informed drug development techniques and technologies.
Our leading High Throughput Screening capabilities ensure we can develop and deliver novel reagents and high quality assays to support efficient and effective pre-clinical drug discovery and biomarker development in later clinical phases. In parallel to this, we use our screening capabilities to provide project teams with mechanism of action, biology, safety and drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) insights across lead generation and lead optimisation projects, while our structure and biophysics group use protein structure and biophysics to understand the relationships between target protein and chemical space.
Drug safety and metabolism
By following the science and combining our expertise with that of our external partners, we apply our drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) expertise with discovery safety capabilities to ensure our teams accelerate the discovery and development of safe, new medicines across our focus areas.
Our IMED brochure
Download our brochure to learn more about IMED.
The IMED annual review 2017
Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) Biotech Unit 2017 - A year in review. Delivering the next wave of scientific innovation
The IMED annual review 2016
Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit 2016 – a year in review
It takes special commitment to keep pushing the boundaries. To keep believing. To never give up.
DNA repair represents an Achilles heel of cancer. My hope is that we at AstraZeneca can help solve this using our porfolio of DNA damage response agents in order to benefit patientsMark O'Connor, Chief Scientist, IMED Biotech Unit (Oncology)
Our Chief Scientist programme
As part of our drive for the best science we are committed to working with the best scientists, both inside and outside the pharmaceutical industry. To ensure that we are able to attract top science talent from academia, we have developed our flexible Chief Scientist programme. By tailoring individual arrangements to enable scientists to work with the IMED Biotech Unit full time, part time, or on assignment from a university, we encourage a permeable research environment meeting the needs of both the institution and individual.
Explore current opportunities
AstraZeneca's work environment is dynamic and fosters innovation. We believe where there's energy there's fulfilment and with jobs from Cambridge, UK to Shanghai, China we've got the role for you.