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The Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre was illuminated blue last week, in support of our incredible NHS

Milner Update: April 2020


The Milner team keeping a sense of 'normality' via Zoom

We hope that this newsletter finds you all safe and well. The Milner Institute has been closed for all but essential business during lockdown, but like so many, the team have been busy working from home and adapting plans for the coming months. Meanwhile Zoom meetings have continued to lift our spirits! A highlight in the past week was working with Venue AV to light up the JCBC building to thank the amazing NHS staff on the campus and beyond.

Thank you to the Consortium and Affiliated companies for their generous support around the COVID-19 response - from donating PPE for Addenbrooke’s Hospital to reaching out for potential research collaborations. Both within the Milner and in our neighbouring institutes, new University research is aiming to tackle COVID-19. Please contact us if you would like to discuss ways to work together. Read more »

We are delighted to announce that Eisai have joined the Milner Therapeutics Consortium. You can find out more about Eisai in our Consortium Spotlight section below. Read more »

Finally, this month we have welcomed Paulo Amaral as a Borysiewicz Biomedical Science Fellow. Paulo has co-founded Pentail Enzymes Ltd, and will be based in the Milner Institute for the coming year. Read more »


Milner Events Online


The Milner Seminar Series has moved online, starting with a fantastic talk last week from Mathew Garnett. Our talks are released a day in advance of a live Q&A session with the speaker, to enable wide participation. Questions can be submitted in advance, and also by using the chat function on Zoom. The next talk from Waradon Sungnak (Teichmann lab, Wellcome Sanger Institute) on May 7th will highlight their new study of single-cell transcriptomics in covid-19 infection. Read more »

The Milner Therapeutics Symposium is also moving online in a series of independent events, starting on June 12th. This adapted event will still include planned plenary talks and sessions on Oncology, CNS Therapeutics, Disease relevant models and Interdisciplinary Research. We hope that you will join us online for an interactive and inspiring event!

Registration is required for Symposium events, and is open to academics and affiliated companies only. Register here »


Onco-Innovation Programme


Dr. Rebecca Harris
Drug Discovery Programme Manager

Did you know that the Milner Therapeutics Institute is part of the CRUK Cambridge Centre, and delivers the Onco-Innovation programme? You can sign up to become a member of the Onco-Innovation programme here »

The Onco-Innovation programme’s remit closely aligns with that of the Milner Therapeutics Institute. The programme sits at the interface between academia and industry, focusing on the application of multidisciplinary science to better understand disease mechanisms and thereby inform cancer detection and patient treatment.

We are inviting new members to the Onco-Innovation programme. If you have any questions on membership, please contact Dr Becky Harris .


Academic Spotlight


Emma Rawlins
MRC Senior Fellow
Gurdon Institute,
University of Cambridge

Research focus: Cellular and molecular basis of human lung development and regeneration.

Recent advance from the lab: The establishment of a human lung organoid system which allows us to model the development of the alveolar gas exchange surface. One of my graduate students has also recently adapted CRISPR strategies for use in our organoid system and these advances are fuelling our current work on normal human lung development, disease modelling and regeneration strategies. (Nikolić et al 2017, Elife)

Key challenge in the field: As a field, we are increasingly appreciating the detailed differences between human and mouse organs and we all know that the devil is in the details for the development of effective new therapeutics. How will we develop improved pre-clinical models of chronic human lung diseases that allow us to exploit the current advances in human lung cell biology?

Most exciting basic or clinical breakthrough in the past few years: The development of organoid technology which allows many aspects of tissue function to be modelled conveniently at the cellular level. However, we need to remain aware of the limitations of the organoid models.

Read more »


Consortium Spotlight


Dr Peter Aitkinson
Director & Head of Open Innovation,
Neurology Business Group

Dr Andy Takle
Executive Director & Head of Hatfield Research Laboratories,
Neurology Business Group

Eisai join Milner Therapeutics Consortium

We are delighted to announce that Eisai have joined the Milner Therapeutics Consortium, which now includes 8 pharma partners. Eisai is a leading global research and development-based pharmaceutical company headquartered in Japan. Eisai’s corporate mission is defined as “giving first thought to patients and their families and to increasing the benefits health care provides,” also known as their human health care philosophy. They strive to realise the human health care philosophy by delivering innovative products in various therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs, including oncology and neurology.

“We are excited to welcome Eisai to the Consortium and hope that our strong alignment of research areas will enable innovative partnerships for uncovering new targets” says our Director Tony Kouzarides.

Find out more about Eisai by by clicking the logo below.


Affiliated Company Spotlight


Dr Marcus Yeo
Chief Executive Officer


Company formed in: 2013

Size: SME

Type: Biotech

Who you need to know: Dr Marcus Yeo, Chief Executive Officer

Location: Cambridge, UK

Key research or technology focus : iPSC production and metabolic disease modelling

Can provide expertise in: DefiniGEN’s proprietary core optiDIFF technology is a world-leading production platform designed to generate mature, primary-like human endoderm cell types from iPSC. Our scalable process supports preclinical research through the provision of mature human cells including hepatocytes, pancreatic beta cells and intestinal cells. CRISPR gene-editing combined with DefiniGEN’s iPSC technology platform provides an innovative tool for producing disease-relevant models.

Find out more about DefiniGen by by clicking the logo below.


Affiliated Company News


GSK, AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge are collaborating to support UK national effort to boost COVID-19 testing. Read more »

Johnson & Johnson and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) have announced a lead vaccine candidate against COVID-19. Read more »

Pfizer and BioNTech have announced approval to commence a COVID-19-related vaccine clinical trial in Germany. Read more »

Shionogi are prioritizing development of a prophylactic vaccine for COVID-19 alongside development of new therapeutics. Read more »

Amgen and Adaptive Biotechnologies have announced a strategic partnership to develop a therapeutic to prevent or treat COVID-19. Read more »

Healx are using artificial intelligence to find combination drug treatments for COVID-19. Read more »

Twist Bioscience announced a collaboration with Vanderbilt University Medical Centre to supply synthetic genes for the development of therapies for COVID-19 . Read more »

Censo Biotechnologies is repurposing its laboratories at Babraham Research Campus and Roslin near Edinburgh, for COVID-19 testing. Read more »

Active Motif have developed recombinant human COVID-19 antibodies now available to research community. Read more »

Biomax Informatics AG are working in partnership with the International COVID-19 Disease Map Community. Read more »

Linguamatics is applying its NLP platform to generate a COVID-19 publications map. Read more »

GE Healthcare Life Sciences have completed transition into Cytiva as a global provider of technologies and services that advance and accelerate the development and manufacture of therapeutics such as life-saving vaccines, biologic drugs and novel cell and gene therapies. Read more »

Astex scientist, Pamela Williams, won the Biochemical Society’s Industry and Academic Collaboration Award. Read more »

Standigm have raised US $11.5 million in Series B round funding to advance its AI-powered drug pipelines toward license-out. Read more »

PolyProx Therapeutics have increased their seed funding to £3.4 million with an additional £1 million financing from LifeArc to validate polyproxin® drug leads in oncology. Read more »

PhoreMost have entered a multi-project collaboration with Otsuka Pharmaceutical applying their SITESEEKER net-generation phenotypic screening platform for drug discovery. Read more »

Nemesis Bioscience have been awarded Innovate UK SBRI funding for their approach of reversing antimicrobial resistance in existing antibiotics. Read more »

Intellegens and Optibrium have announced success in Open Source Malaria initiative with in vitro validation of an in silico generated compound. Read more »

Bioascent have been recognised as the UK’s fastest-growing drug discovery CRO, in the Alantra Pharma Fast 50 report. Read more »


Events & Opportunities


Milner Seminars Online
7th May, Zoom

The Milner seminars have temporarily moved online and will now be biweekly, including a live Q&A. The next talk is from Waradon Sungnak, and we hope you will join us online for this! Details of how to access the talk via Zoom will be published in advance on our website. Read more »

Weekly COVID-19 Updates Online
Thursdays at 2pm, Zoom

Hosted by Dr Nicholas Matheson, CITIID PI and consultant in Infectious Diseases. Each episode includes an update on the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, and a review of the latest developments in SARS-CoV-2 biomedical research and experimental medicine. Read more »

Funding calls related to COVID-19
Rolling submission

A number of funding calls have been initiated for researchers and companies working on therapeutics and diagnostics for coronaviruses. Read more »

Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) Connects Series
29th April - 17th June, Online

A series of webinars covering the drug discovery process, from the experts at Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and CRO network partners. Read more »

Judge Business School Enterprise Tuesday - Kung-Fu Pandas, Unicorns & Princesses
12th May, Online

Keynote speaker Janneke Niessen, Co-founder, VCVolt and CapitalT. An experienced and successful entrepreneur shares her most important lessons from growing her company from startup to scale-up. Read more »

Scientific Consultant / Field Application Scientist, Biopharma R&D
Genedata, UK

A successful candidate will be responsible for building strong relationships with customers, and developing a deep understanding of their R&D processes, which will ultimately transform how their R&D teams work together. This is an interdisciplinary, multi-faceted position at Read more »

Milner Therapeutics Symposium
12th June, Online

The annual Milner Therapeutics Symposium is moving online in a series of independent events, starting on June 12th. This adapted event will still include planned plenary talks and sessions on Oncology, CNS Therapeutics, Disease relevant models and Interdisciplinary Research. We hope that you will join us online for an interactive and inspiring event! Registration is required for Symposium events, and is open to academics and affiliated companies only. Read more »

StartUP@Babraham Competition 2020
Deadline: 17th June

StartUP@Babraham is a competition that supports ideas and/or companies that are pre-seed to seed stage (below £500k investment) is open for applications. Read more »

Cambridge Enterprise: Postdoc Business Plan Competition
Deadline: 12th July

Hosted by Cambridge Enterprise and the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge. Apply by submitting a business plan for your idea! Read more »

ON Helix Digital conference: Transforming New Medicine Discovery
13th & 14th July, Online

Includes an expanded programme on how to transform new medicine discovery, live debates and pre-recorded insight sessions on technology and innovation, keynote Presentations and Fireside Chats with international Key Opinion Leaders, workshop sessions on key business challengesRead more »

Contact us

The Milner Institute
Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre
University of Cambridge
Puddicombe Way
Cambridge CB2 0AW, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1223 767111 |

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