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21 February, 2019 - 10:47 By Tony Quested

Osbourn in demand as she confirms she is leaving MedImmune

MedImmune’s VP of R & D and Cambridge site leader Jane Osbourn confirms that she is leaving the business this summer after 25 years due to restructuring by parent company AstraZeneca.

She will remain as chair of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) until the end of her term.

A judge in the Business Weekly Awards, Osbourn has helped fashion the Cambridge life science cluster as a global player. She says she has been overwhelmed by expressions of goodwill since her impending departure was announced. 

Nor will her inbox want for offers of new roles within the Cambridge life science community judging by immediate response to the news. Osbourn tells me she can afford to bide her time before considering her next move.

Osbourn cut her teeth with Cambridge Antibody Technology whose IP led to the cluster’s first ever blockbuster drug – Humira. AstraZeneca acquired CAT in a deal valued at $1.3 billion in 2006. The following year it bought MedImmune for $15.6bn  and CAT was absorbed into a new biologics division.

With eight drugs launched biologics now makes up 50 per cent of the AstraZeneca pipeline. Osbourn will help with organisational transition at AstraZeneca for the next few months.

A previously reported in Business Weekly, AstraZeneca is restructuring its R & D organisation to align with therapy areas. This means the current three AstraZeneca science units (MedImmune, Innovative Medicines Development, and Global Medicines Development) are being dissolved and two new R & D units are to be created, one of which will focused on oncology and the second covering other therapy areas (cardiovascular/metabolic, respiratory, infection and neuroscience) and also incorporating the discovery platforms. 

This reorganisation will also retire the MedImmune brand one of whose last public appearances will be at the Business Weekly Awards dinner in Cambridge on March 20.

A statement from the BIA said:  “I know Jane is looking forward to a new chapter in her career in what she describes as our ‘wonderful UK biotech community.’

“She has been a key player in our growing global cluster for many years and will be for many years to come. At the same time, I am reassured that AZ remains committed to continuing to work closely with its biotech partners and the BIA community going forward.”

Osbourn said: “I have loved working for MedImmune because of the passion of our people for great science and our ability to turn this into life-improving drugs. ”

She joined MedImmune in 1993 and originated several key publications and patents; she also made a significant contribution to the discovery and development of marketed drugs and more than 40 clinical candidates.

Prior to joining CAT, Jane obtained a First Class degree in Natural Sciences (Biochemistry) from the University of Cambridge and completed a PhD at the John Innes Centre for Plant Science Research in Norwich. This was followed by a postdoctoral position at Rutgers University, New Jersey before moving into medical research through a British Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Department of Medicine at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

In 2010, Jane won the Institute of Directors’ East of England Business Woman of the Year Award in recognition of her contribution to the successful integration and development of CAT and MedImmune in Cambridge.

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