CAMBRIDGE, UK—Former Microsoft UK head of PR Ali Perkins has joined AstraZeneca as global head of communications for the pharma giant's R&D units.

Perkins takes on global communications oversight for AstraZeneca's IMED (Innovative Medicines and Early Development) biotech unit and global medicines development. The role was previously held by Richard Burton, who joined BrandPie last year.

As a member of the corporate affairs and IMED leadership teams at AstraZeneca, Perkins reports to Rich Buckley, who is acting VP of corporate affairs at the company. She is based at the company's new global HQ and R&D centre in Cambridge, which is due to complete construction by the end of this year.

She told the Holmes Report that her role will involve "enhancing the company’s scientific reputation across a broad range of internal and external stakeholders".

That goal, added Perkins, will require the development of an integrated, multichannel communications strategy "which brings the science to life, showcasing AstraZeneca as the natural home for great scientists and partner of choice for innovative biotechs."

Perkins was head of UK PR at Microsoft for seven years after joining the company in 2006, before becoming director of privacy and social business strategy in 2013. She left the company in 2014 and spent the past year running her own consultancy.

Prior to Microsoft, Perkins worked in-house at several tech companies, including Oracle and Siebel Systems.