University of Cambridge fosters industry-academia collaborations in therapeutics

Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences aims to create world-leading industry-academia collaborations with new initiative

Killer T cells. Credit: Gillian Griffiths/University of Cambridge

The Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences (CATS), a new initiative that aims to establish a world-leading platform for collaboration between academia and industry in the development of therapeutics, has been launched by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

CATS will foster science that underpins the discovery of new treatments and diagnostics and the safe and effective use of existing medicines. It will combine excellent science with efficient translation, working across biological, physical, clinical and social sciences and engineering, in partnership with industry.

The arrival in Cambridge of major pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Otsuka, and the closeness of GSK, put Cambridge firmly at the epicentre of commercial drug discovery in the UK and internationally.

From early 2018, the Campus will also house the Milner Therapeutics Institute, a partner organisation within CATS, which will act as a research hub and partner with institutions in aspects of drug development research.

“Healthcare in the future will be provided by a complex interplay of patients, industries and service operators,” said Vice Chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz.

“It will involve sophisticated diagnostic tools; digital scrutiny and interpretation using artificial intelligence; and access to an extensive toolbox of therapeutic approaches, all personalised to the individual patient and available through a redesigned primary and hospital healthcare environment.”

Healthcare in the future will involve access to an extensive toolbox of therapeutic approaches.

The Academy will focus on three main areas:

Research facilitation – through collaboration, networking and capacity building, encouraging people and skills exchanges between academia and industry in the UK, with the aim of expanding to involve international collaborations, particularly in in developing countries; Education – from undergraduate through to postdoctoral, CATS will provide education and training opportunities, and facilitate networking and internships with industry partners; a key plank in this strand will be to develop a new modular Master’s course in therapeutic sciences. Policy – working closely with the University’s Centre for Science and Policy, and the Research Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, CATS will take the lead in addressing key legal and policy matters across the spectrum of pharmaceutical sciences, and beyond.

One key theme that the Academy will focus on is medicine safety, through the involvement of the Cambridge Alliance on Medicines Safety, a partnership between the University, the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit (due to transfer to the University in 2018), GSK and AstraZeneca.

Its main aim is to connect scientists at the University whose work relates to safety of medicines to build an active academic research programme with strong collaborative links to pharmaceutical and human-safety related companies.

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