skip to content

Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences


Dr Christine Watson is a Professor of Pathology at the University of Cambridge and her group carries out research to develop new therapeutics for breast cancer. In 2016 Dr Jessie Hitchcock, a post-doc in the Watson lab spent six months working at MedImmune on a full-time basis to advance her project on the progression of pregnancy-associated breast cancer. This placement was supported by the University’s Research Exchange Fellowship scheme, funded by the MRC.   

After hearing a talk by Robert Wilkinson, Director of Oncology Research at MedImmune, Jessie contacted him and explained the potential opportunity for a funded research exchange fellowship. She was particularly attracted to MedImmune because of its reputation amongst the Cambridge scientific community: “MedImmune has presented some great science in Cambridge and seem very open to collaborating.”

Robert immediately recognised the benefits of the MRC funded scheme which he describes as being “great at bringing industry and academia together, allowing both parties to mutually benefit and advance knowledge on important research interests and capabilities.” 

While at MedImmune, Jessie increased her understanding of processes and workplace culture in a large company while making many new contacts: “Scientists at MedImmune undertake meticulous planning and use teamwork to achieve bigger experiments. There were more meetings - and opportunities for collaboration - than I was previously used to and more structure to the day. As a result of my time there, our research group is now in touch with and enjoying communication with the in-vivo and the in-vitro teams at MedImmune.”

Nadia Luheshi, a Senior Scientist in Oncology Research who worked closely with Jessie during her time at MedImmune, believes that the collaboration had a “real impact for us (at MedImmune). We realised quickly in discussions with Jessie that we had a shared interest in the tumour myeloid cell biology. While Jessie was at MedImmune, she was able to develop a new assay to investigate the effect of these cells on adaptive immune responses. Her work has added further depth to our understanding of tumour myeloid cell biology, and has given us new opportunities to investigate the effect of our novel therapies on these cells”.

Jessie is now applying the knowledge and techniques she gained in her time at MedImmune to advance her post-doc project.

MedImmune is the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines. MedImmune is pioneering innovative research and exploring novel pathways across Oncology, Respiratory, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases, and Infection and Vaccines.