AstraZeneca is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies. Their mission is to discover new medicines to improve the health and quality of life of patients - medicines which are innovative, effective and offer added benefits such as reduced side effects.
The Doctoral Training Centre in Targeted Therapeutics (DTC) was launched as a joint partnership between AstraZeneca and The University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy in October 2006, backed by funding totalling £2.5m from AstraZeneca and the ESPRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). The centre supports five students each year during a four-year multi-disciplinary course, undertaking formal and industry-focused training as well as a three-year PhD project.
In the modern, ultra-competitive corporate world, time for ‘blue sky thinking’ is at a premium. But it’s exactly that kind of innovative and revolutionary thinking that can unlock the most crucial ideas. That’s the concept behind the Doctoral Training Centre in Targeted Therapeutics (DTC), a joint partnership between AstraZeneca and The University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy.
“In the early part of this decade, we went through a process of deciding which university we needed to form a special relationship with in the area of effective drug delivery to patients,” explains Gordon France, Vice President of Strategy, Technology and Systems at AstraZeneca. “The Pharmacy School at the University of Nottingham was chosen because of its reputation. In particular, the calibre of students being produced is vital – this has been seen as the place to go for the last 30 years or so – thanks to its high standards.”
As one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, AstraZeneca needs radical thinkers to make a difference. After all, the future success of its business depends upon developing new products to improve the lives of patients worldwide.
“Our involvement in the DTC and the free-thinking it creates can improve our future capabilities,” confirms Gordon. “Above all, there’ll be more PhD students equipped to face the challenges of producing better products for patients. The entire industry could benefit from their enhanced breadth of knowledge.”
The PhD projects produced from the DTC are particularly important. “These projects create the blue sky thinking we need,” he continues. “It’s important because it gives us the chance to explore research areas that we don’t usually explore internally. So we gain definite benefits by adding to our overall understanding.”
It’s no surprise that Gordon France and his team are delighted by the progress of the DTC: “The profile of the centre is growing each year – and my personal view is that the relationship is working excellently.”
More than three years since its launch, there’s little doubt that DTC broke important new ground as the first industrially-sponsored project to receive ESPRC funding. “We don’t have anything like DTC anywhere else in the world and it has been a major investment which is cost-effective,” concludes Gordon. “This partnership has global significance for AstraZeneca and I’m personally proud of our long-term involvement with the University of Nottingham.”