MedImmune partners with the University of Sheffield to generate innovations in cell factory engineering science

Gaithersburg, MD and Sheffield, UK – July 22, 2015 – MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and the University of Sheffield announced today that they have entered into a multi-project research collaboration to generate breakthrough research in cell factory technology, the process by which living cells can be controlled and manipulated to make specific proteins with therapeutic benefits. 

As part of the five-year collaboration, MedImmune will provide funding and in-kind contributions to support University of Sheffield post-doctoral and doctoral research projects to address key challenges in cell engineering. The aim is to produce tools to ensure that manufacturing success is “designed in” from a much earlier stage than occurs with current screening-based strategies, to improve the development and production of biologic medicines. The collaboration will focus on harnessing expertise from both MedImmune and the world-leading group in the University’s Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre to advance research specifically in mammalian cell factories.

Researchers from MedImmune and the University will exchange research materials and move easily between sites and state-of-the-art facilities and will work closely as an integrated team. A Joint Steering Committee (JSC) comprised of equal members from both institutions will select the research projects and may choose to seek additional grant funding from other sources to generate further high quality, collaborative work. 

“We are pleased to enter into this strategic collaboration with the University of Sheffield to generate transformative cell factory tools that can potentially improve the way new therapies are delivered to patients,” said Gail Wasserman, Senior Vice President, Biopharmaceutical Development, MedImmune. “This multi-year commitment provides MedImmune with a strong partner in cell factory research and may allow select complex proteins to be more rapidly and effectively manufactured to produce life-changing therapies.”

The partnership will transform the current manufacturing process by creating tools that could increase yield and improve predictability for engineered proteins such as bispecific antibodies and other innovative proteins that have the potential to treat a range of diseases. In addition to MedImmune scientists, experts and infrastructure from the University’s Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and Biomedical Sciences will participate in the partnership. The collaboration builds on an existing relationship between MedImmune and the University by further investing in bioprocessing research.

“This partnership will enable us to significantly advance cell engineering technology able to speed the development of MedImmune's new biopharmaceutical medicines," says Professor David James, Director of the Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre at the University of Sheffield.  "Together we will design and create new cell factories specifically fit for purpose that can overcome natural limitations in cellular manufacturing performance.”

This collaboration builds on previous research collaborations that MedImmune has recently entered into in biopharmaceutical development, including collaborations with The University of Cambridge’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, the University of Manchester and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


About the University of Sheffield
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities. A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in. In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields. Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

About MedImmune
MedImmune is the worldwide biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across key therapeutic areas, including respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; neuroscience; and infection and vaccines. The MedImmune headquarters is located in Gaithersburg, Md, one of AstraZeneca’s three global R&D centers. For more information, please visit

Susannah Budington, MedImmune
(301) 398-6717

Tracy Rossin, MedImmune
(301) 398-1468

Karen Wood, University of Sheffield
Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre Manager
+44 (0)114 222 9605