An active alliance between Celgene and the University of Oxford aims to catalyse translational research that has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of patients, and equip a cohort of researchers with an in-depth understanding of industry research and development.
Celgene is building a preeminent global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialisation of innovative therapies for patients with cancer, immune-inflammatory and other unmet medical needs.
These therapeutic areas align with Oxford’s research strengths and current projects are running across several departments within the Medical Sciences Division, tackling challenging questions in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, Parkinson’s and a number of inflammatory diseases.
About the alliance
Recognising the value in collaborating on their shared areas of interest, since 2015 Celgene has funded a number of projects at the University of Oxford. A unique aspect of this alliance was the establishment of a Fellowship programme to support postdoctoral researchers and clinicians on these projects. Celgene Fellows are recruited to carry out world-leading research, and have a unique level of support available to them through this collaboration. Fellows benefit from the direction and mentorship of the Celgene project lead, opportunities to carry out research and use facilities at Celgene labs in the US and Spain, and access to unique training opportunities. Both Celgene and the University draw value from the opportunity to facilitate skills transfer between researchers in academia and industry and to stimulate new scientific discovery and translation.
One special aspect of my fellowship has been the opportunity to work in Celgene labs in San Francisco and San Diego. These experiences have been an amazing learning opportunity, but also enabled me to experience how basic science research is conducted in a pharmaceutical setting
- Dr Thomas Layton, Oxford-Celgene Fellow
Several fellows have benefitted from spending time at Celgene utilising equipment and accessing expertise to move their projects forward, as outlined by Celgene Fellow Heidi Olzscha: ‘The Fellowship has allowed me to work on cutting-edge basic research which can be translated into the clinic, and helped to confirm my passion for research in this field'.
Support for the alliance
This collaboration benefits from a dedicated alliance manager, Dr Charlotte Bell, who provides a single point of contact for both Celgene and the University of Oxford, catalysing interactions and supporting the Fellows programme through the provision of dedicated training and networking events.
‘I manage the Celgene Fellowships Scheme, which is now in its third year and is currently supporting 16 fellows. Recently we held a workshop and Fellows’ Dinner to bring together researchers from our four Fellowship programmes for networking and an immersion into the drug discovery process.’
Lynn Quek took up the Celgene-Oxford Fellowship in August 2015 to work on an exciting project to study the effect of a novel drug Enasidenib (previously called AG221) in patients with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). Part of the translational data was published in Blood (Amatangelo et al., 2017), and used to support a successful new drug approval application to the FDA in 2017. Further work that gave deeper insights into clonal dynamics in AML patients treated with Enasidenib, was recently published in Nature Medicine (Quek et al. 2018). Find out more.