Our approach to R&D

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Driven by science, united by science

Our ambition is to transform the lives of patients with improved outcomes and a better quality of life, through more effective treatment and prevention, ultimately working toward a cure for some of the world’s most complex diseases.

We have a unique R&D culture where people with curious minds are inspired to think creatively. At the same time, we are harnessing data and technology to fast-forward the pace of our science. It is a culture where people are able to work seamlessly and inclusively together, where all doors are open, talent and diversity are celebrated, and every voice is heard. In addition, we are always learning from people who live with the diseases our medicines treat so we can understand their needs and make sure that great science born in the lab can make a real difference to their lives.

It’s by creating and sustaining this culture that we are able to help unlock the power of what science can do.


Our approach to R&D

The pace of change in healthcare is moving more rapidly than ever before. Our patient-centric culture, from discovery to clinical trials, treatment delivery, and beyond, is helping us achieve our aim of getting the right medicines to the right patients, faster than ever before. Within R&D, we continue to help build our business’s reputation for scientific leadership by inspiring people with curious minds, harnessing data and technology, working seamlessly and inclusively, and always learning from patients.

Focusing on quality, not quantity

Our drug discovery and development is guided by our 5R Framework, which champions quality over quantity, and has helped transform the culture of R&D and our business.

In the last decade, we have achieved an almost six-fold improvement in the proportion of pipeline molecules that have advanced from preclinical investigation to completion of Phase III clinical trials – from 4 percent to 23 percent. This improvement moves us well above the current industry average success rate of 14 percent in the 2018-2020 timeframe.*

*In-house data (2017-2021) and Centre for Medicines Research (CMR), a subsidiary of Clarivate (2018-2020).  

Transformative science

We are never complacent about scientific discovery and development, always pushing our R&D productivity, searching for new knowledge and the next breakthrough.

Guided by our ‘Growth Through Innovation’ strategy, we are committed to investing in four areas, which will help us in our aspiration to create the greatest and swiftest impact on disease:

Three organisations. One aim

We have three therapy-focused R&D organisations who lead all our work, from discovery through to late-stage development. Oncology R&D is focused on cancer. BioPharmaceuticals R&D on Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism (CVRM) Respiratory and Immunology, Vaccines and Immune Therapies and opportunistically, Neuroscience. 

Rare Disease is focused on rare diseases across multiple therapy areas.

The three organisations work both independently and together, sharing Functions specialising in key scientific capabilities from medicinal chemistry to biometrics, patient safety to data science and artificial intelligence (AI), and clinical innovation to device technology. All of which help us accelerate discovery and development in our efforts to bring new medicines to patients.

Our R&D groups are unified in their approach, and united in their purpose to deliver life-changing medicines to people who need them most.

Keeping doors and our minds open

We know that however innovative our science is, however effective our medicines and delivery, to achieve all we want to achieve, we cannot do it alone. To address all the issues facing healthcare and achieve the scientific breakthroughs we aspire to, we need to work together, collaborating among ourselves and with others, bringing the best talent to bear on the toughest problems.

As a business, our teams are leading the way in creating open research environments that go beyond the usual collaborative models, with academia, biotech companies, industry peers, healthcare systems and governments. We have over 2,000 active partnerships and believe it to be a powerful source of transformational potential.

Our Open Innovation programme is designed to offer a permeable research environment where scientists both inside and outside of AstraZeneca can share their ideas and collaborate on projects.

STEM – Empowering the next generation of science leaders

We are committed to empowering the next generation of scientific leaders and to inspiring students across genders, races and geographies to consider STEM careers in healthcare.

Making our science sustainable

We are a scientifically driven business with a strong global presence and as such, believe that we have a duty of care to help improve people’s health and do as much as we can to contribute to the health of the planet.

Our approach to sustainability is built around three pillars:

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Join us

If you believe in the power of what science can do, join us in our endeavour to push the boundaries of science to deliver life-changing medicines.

Collaborate with us

We know that however innovative our science, however effective our medicines and delivery, to achieve all we want to achieve, we cannot do it alone.

Veeva ID: Z4-48560
Date of preparation: September 2022