AstraZeneca funds R&D Postdoctoral Challenge Finalists

Six finalists awarded fully funded postdoctoral research positions, including two from the Middle East and Africa region
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, November 3, 2022/ — AstraZeneca has agreed to fund all six finalists from the R&D Postdoctoral Challenge with research positions for two years at one of the Company’s strategic R&D centres in Cambridge, UK, Gaithersburg, US or Gothenburg, Sweden.

Unlike traditional pre-defined industry postdoctoral initiatives, the Challenge which launched in March 2022, encouraged early career scientists to submit their own research proposals to accelerate drug discovery for some of the world’s most complex diseases.

From more than 120 proposals, six winners were selected by a judging panel of AstraZeneca and external life science leaders, based on scientific merit and potential to create a real impact for patients, society and healthcare systems.

Prof. Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “We launched the R&D Postdoctoral Challenge to promote diversity of thought and stimulate research opportunities across the globe. The final event was successful in bringing together the brightest minds to help them turn their ideas into meaningful benefits for patients and fuel their early career development. I look forward to re-running the programme in future years.”

The winners from Africa, the Middle East and Europe have been awarded fully funded postdoctoral research positions with access to the Company’s expertise, compounds, novel tools and technologies, and mentoring support to turn their ideas into reality.

The research of Dr Rakhee K. Ramakrishnan, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Research Institute for Medical and Health Sciences, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates focuses on microbiome-based therapeutics for asthma.

Another project by Dr Patience Chihomvu, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, South Africa examines the phytochemical profile of the plant Lippia Javanica – a medicinal plant commonly known as the fever tea – and its anti-inflammatory properties. 

The R&D Postdoctoral Challenge forms part of AstraZeneca’s commitment to supporting early talent, providing opportunities to work within a diverse and inclusive environment that enables science to thrive.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of AstraZeneca.
 AstraZeneca’s global R&D footprint and productivity:
In 2021 AstraZeneca invested $8 billion in R&D, around 21% of the Company’s turnover, in order to continue to discover and develop medicines which transform the lives of patients.

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The Company has three world class strategic R&D centres including The Discovery Centre (DISC) in Cambridge in the UK, one in Gaithersburg, Maryland in the greater Washington, D.C. region of the US, and another in Gothenburg in Sweden, as well as further hubs across the world. It has integrated R&D teams and accelerated decision-making processes, using its unique scientific capabilities, to deliver one of the most productive pipelines in the industry.

Since 2005, AstraZeneca has achieved an almost six-fold improvement in the proportion of its pipeline molecules that have advanced from preclinical investigation to completion of Phase III clinical trials – from 4% to 23%. This improvement moves AstraZeneca well above the current industry average success rate of 14% in the 2018-2020 timeframe.[1]

Of the Company’s 80,000 employees, more than 13,000 work exclusively in R&D. In 2021, its scientists published a total of 871 manuscripts, with 196 in high impact peer-review journals (impact factor greater than or equal to 15 according to Reuters five-year rating), compared to one in 2010.

AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases, and Bio Pharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.
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