Our new research institute opened summer 2019 in the new Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, providing a physical hub for
collaboration between industry and academia. Scientists from academia, pharma and biotech are working together in this common space, creating a unique research environment that breaks down barriers between these sectors.
The institute will initially house four research units:
- Centre for Pathway Analysis
- Start Codon accelerator programme
- AstraZeneca-Cancer Research UK Functional Genomics Centre
- Cambridge Centre for Proteomics
Our neighbours in the building include the Wellcome Trust–MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (led by Professor Tony Green) and the new Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease (led by Professor Ken Smith), which will enable new collaborations in areas of therapeutic priority.
How to work with us:
- through a collaboration with one of our consortium partners
- through collaboration with the Centre for Pathway Analysis, e.g. in target validation or screening a new cellular disease model
- by attending our events in 2019 e.g. annual Symposium, new Affiliate Series
- through application to the Accelerator programme
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Centre for Pathway Analysis has labs and open plan desk space where academics, pharma and biotech work side-by-side, providing a unique interactive and multifaceted environment for therapeutic innovation. The Centre will allow the development of our own research programme and drug discovery pipeline, with a particular focus on oncology.
Disease signature identification
Our computational biology team, led by Dr Namshik Han, is investigating signatures of disease by integrating and analysing large multi-omic datasets. The team are working closely in collaboration with the medical research charity LifeArc and also with Storm Therapeutics to devise new harmonized databases and machine learning methods for target identification. We will collaborate with researchers throughout Cambridge with appropriate assays to validate the targets identified.
Disease signature interrogation
Led by Dr Rebecca Harris, the team will initiate a target discovery programme next year, which will functionally interrogate signatures of disease identified through computational biology. We will work with selected researchers on the campus with complex cellular or organoid disease models to develop robust assays for medium-throughput genetic or chemical screening for target identification and validation; this platform will leverage unique resources from our industry partners including compound libraries and expertise in screen design and interpretation. These specialist facilities, set up and managed by our facilities manager Gian-marco Melfi, will also provide new opportunities for pre-competitive collaborative projects between academics and our Consortium partners.
This Milner research programme aligns with the Onco-Innovation programme of the CRUK Cambridge Centre and a central aim of the Milner Therapeutics Institute is to enable the translational potential of research coming out of groups at the CRUK Cambridge Centre. For example, the group of Manav Pathania is based in the Milner Therapeutics Institute. They have a central focus on developing new mouse models for children’s brain tumours, to better understand the diverse genetic basis of different brain tumour types. By applying CRISPR technology to test genetic and epigenetic weaknesses in these tumour models, they hope in the longer term to pave the way to more targeted, precise treatments that can be tailored to each patient. Working in the Milner Institute alongside new groups such as the AstraZeneca-Cancer Research UK Functional Genomics Centre, Manav hopes to identify new opportunities for collaborative model development and screening approaches.
Konstantinos Tzelepis joined the institute in February 2020 as an academic in residence. His research is focused on uncovering epigenetic mechanisms that are implicated in devastating malignancies including acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a disease in urgent need of effective new therapies. He brings significant expertise in the identification and characterisation of novel therapeutic targets using a wide range of applied functional genetics including sophisticated CRISPR-Cas9 screening platforms, which will be vital as we expand our functional genomics capacity during the coming year.
The CRUK-AstraZeneca Functional Genomics Centre offers access to cutting-edge CRISPR technology to facilitate the creation of new cancer medicines and the improved use of existing cancer medicines. This is being established with the expert guidance of Professor Greg Hannon (Scientific Lead for CRUK and Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute) and Ultan McDermott (Scientific Lead for AZ and Chief Scientist, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca). The new facility will collaborate with CRUK-funded researchers to enable ambitious breakthrough science and translation to patient benefit. Alongside the support and expertise it can provide to projects, the centre will deepen understanding of the drivers behind cancer, reveal how resistance to treatments might arise and be avoided, and identify novel therapeutic approaches to traditionally hard-to-treat cancers.
Read more about how to engage with the Functional Genomics Centre
The Milner will house the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics – an internationally established proteomics facility which strives for the development of robust proteomics technology for application to a wide variety of biological questions, making new technologies available to collaborators of CCP and customers of the Core Facility.
The transition of ideas into concrete therapeutic principles requires mentoring and space for research.
Start Codon, a new strategic initiative aimed at driving the translation of world-class research into commercially successful companies, has been founded and launched with funding from keystone investors including Cambridge Innovation Capital, Babraham Bioscience Technologies, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Dr Jonathan Milner and Dr Ian Tomlinson. Start Codon’s executive team will be led by Dr Jason Mellad, previously CEO of Cambridge Epigenetix.
Start Codon will identify and recruit high potential life science and healthcare companies from across the UK and beyond, provide seed-funding, and leverage the world-class resources of the Cambridge Cluster to reduce risk and prepare them for a successful Series A fundraise. The accelerator will be the first within the Cambridge Cluster to provide life science start-ups with significant investment (up to £250K), a full-time dedicated team of experienced and active mentors, and office and lab space (located at the Milner Therapeutics Institute). Start Codon now plans to raise a venture fund with the goal of investing in and supporting up to 50 start-up companies over the next 5 years.