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:

Centre for Pathway Analysis

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. 


Functional Genomics Centre

AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK will together form this centre of excellence in genetic screening, cancer modelling and big data processing aimed at accelerating the discovery of new cancer medicines. This is being established with the expert guidance of Professor Greg Hannon, Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. The Functional Genomics Centre will further develop CRISPR technology to better understand the biology of cancer, creating biological models that may be more reflective of human disease, and advancing computational approaches to better analyse big datasets. These approaches will be designed to inform new druggable targets in oncology by using clinical insights to better understand tumour disease and resistance mechanisms.

Centre for Proteomics

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.

Companies in residence

Selected start-up and pharma companies will be housed in the Milner Therapeutics Institute.

Our pharma partners will work on pre-competitive projects in collaboration with Cambridge researchers and also hot-desk in the Labs, facilitating further interactions with academics on the campus.

Accelerator programme

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.

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