MRC collaboration to drive innovation in cell and oligonucleotide therapies

New jointly-funded postdoctoral fellowship scheme will support research into improving health outcomes, train the next generation of scientists and foster collaborations between academia and industry.

We have launched a jointly-funded £4 million postdoctoral fellowship scheme with the Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, that aims to advance research on cell and oligonucleotide therapies.  

Cell therapies and oligonucleotide therapies are types of ‘advanced therapies’.

Oligonucleotide therapies are short pieces of DNA or RNA that target disease by silencing or switching-on genes.

Cell therapies work by repairing, replacing, modulating or eliminating diseased or damaged cells and tissue using stem cells, healthy cells from a donor or genetically engineered cells. Cell therapies can also be used to deliver therapeutic drugs to a specific part of the body.

Advanced therapies like these have the potential to revolutionise treatments for disease over the coming decades. However, research is still needed in areas such as patient safety, delivery in the human body and interactions with the immune system.

This call will support talented non-clinical and clinical postdoctoral researchers to seek answers to these questions, while developing links with industry through secondments, training and mentorship opportunities.

The funding of up to £500,000 per application will enable early career researchers to undertake an academically-led independent research project.

The call for applications is now open and the deadline for applications is 8 March 2022.


We are delighted to team up with AstraZeneca for this exciting collaboration. Advanced therapies have huge potential to offer treatments for currently incurable diseases, as well as provide new ways of treating more common conditions. We have made huge progress in bringing advanced therapies to patients, but substantial challenges remain. This funding will help further our knowledge and train the next generation of scientists, through close and productive collaboration between academic and industry.

Fiona Watt Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council Professor

This is a fantastic example of a national funder working in collaboration with industry through a sophisticated and productive collaboration that builds on each other's strengths. We look forward to working together on research that will have real world impact – and the potential to change lives.

Mike Snowden Senior Vice President, Discovery Sciences, R&D, AstraZeneca