Exploring drug resistance in partnership with the University of Oxford


Bristol Myers Squibb and the University of Oxford run the prestigious Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Translational Research Fellowship Programme: a science-focused opportunity, which aims to stimulate new discovery and translation, while facilitating skills and people transfer between researchers in academia and the life sciences industry.1

The partnership provides fellows with a BMS mentor to guide them as they gain experience in commercial drug delivery and development. Some fellows also spend time in our Bristol Myers Squibb laboratories, with access to cutting-edge technology that supports their research areas. Areas of study include identifying potential targets for immuno-oncology, fibrosing disorders, rheumatic and dermatologic disorders, haematologic disorders, heart failure, as well as neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative disorders.

To date, our company (Bristol Myers Squibb and previously Celgene) has funded over 30 postdoctoral researchers’ projects 2, which demonstrate a clear translational value to the advancement of therapeutics.1

Therapy resistance in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML)

One such fellow is Dr Lynn Quek, a Medical Research Council (MRC) clinical scientist and consultant haematologist, with a special interest in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) - the most common and aggressive blood cancer in adults, which is incurable in most patients. Her research has explored what happens when patients stop responding to treatment.

Some AML patients have genetic mutations that stop bone marrow cells from differentiating, or maturing, into blood cells. Instead, these immature cells accumulate in the bone marrow and blood, which is a hallmark of AML. 

Dr Quek and her team were able to identify, for the first time, that therapy resistance occurs when some of the clones - AML cells from the same patient that are grouped into families which share genetic mutations - develop additional mutations. This may help in designing future therapy trials to overcome therapy resistance.

We’ll continue to work with researchers to better understand drug resistance and find ways to overcome it, so we can continue on our journey to transform patients’ lives.

Because there is more to do.


1. University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division - Oxford-BMS Fellowship; Available at: https://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/divisional-services/support-services-1/business-partnerships-office/researchalliances/oxford-bms-fellowship-programme/oxford-bms-fellowship-programme

2. BMS Internal Data on File



July 2022