AstraZeneca is teaming up with the Medical Research Council (MRC) to create a research facility at AZ’s new R&D center in Cambridge, U.K. The center, dubbed the AstraZeneca MRC U.K. Centre for Lead Discovery, will be located within AZ's new site at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

AZ and MRC say, per the collaboration, academic researchers at the facility will receive access to over two million molecules from AZ’s compound library, in addition to the firm's high-throughput screening facilities. The MRC will receive, assess, and select the best scientific proposals from a range of therapy areas and diseases; it plans to fund up to 15 screening projects per year at the new center. AZ will have the first option to enter a negotiation to license any drug discovery programs of relevance to areas of interest to the firm resulting from the research. If AZ doesn't use this option, the researchers are free to negotiate with other parties.

The Cambridge Biomedical Campus site where the new center will be built is currently scheduled for completion in 2016 and was the product of a £330 million (around $548 million) investment in March of 2013. 

“This major strategic alliance with the MRC is the first of its kind,” Menelas Pangalos, AZ's evp, innovative medicines and early development, said in a statement. “It will further AstraZeneca’s aim of creating a truly innovative and collaborative research environment at our new site in Cambridge, where our teams will work side by side with world leading MRC scientists.”

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