Meet Rachelle, Global Head of Neurodegeneration at Roche

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Hi, my name is…

…Rachelle. I am pleased to have recently joined Genentech/Roche after more than 25 years of working in academic medicine. My background is in neurology and cognitive anthropology, but my training has been applied to understanding and remediating Alzheimer’s disease. My career has taught me that we have to think about neurodegenerative disorders from the molecule, to the cell, to society in order to do something about them. It has also taught me that it takes teams of people to address each aspect of disease, whether that means identifying treatment targets, or caring for a single patient.

My typical day…

…begins with a look at my US phone to make sure that nothing came up with my kids or my parents overnight. I have four kids who are at various stages of growing up and being educated, all still based in the US. That reflex look at the phone naturally leads me to a quick check of my work emails, since the part of my team at Genentech in South San Francisco were working into the night while I slept. At work, I will have several meetings each day, including with my Basel-based team and colleagues, and several teleconferences with our broader teams which include people working in England, China, or Japan. The meetings and discussions are diverse, dealing with both early- and late-stage development issues, scientific issues, and policy issues. I also interact by email and phone with academic colleagues from throughout the world on common projects, such as ongoing manuscripts or presentations at upcoming meetings.

The location I am working at is…

…the glamorous Roche Building 1, the tallest office building in Switzerland, near the border with France and Germany.  I have a great view of the Black Forest and the ships going up and down the tree-lined river Rhine. The city view is bordered by a ring of low mountains.  I can get to work in twenty minutes or less by tram, bus, or car—sometimes I vary the commute depending upon the day. Some days I leave from work for the airport or the train station, which means that travel away is easily integrated into the daily schedule.  

My work helps Roche to …

…begin a new focus on neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. And being at Roche helps me to realise my vision of using lessons learned from oncology, such as trials methodologies and mechanistic advances in immunotherapies, to inform my team’s work in late-stage development of new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. We all know the unmet needs in this area—but I am encouraged that bringing out new treatments is within reach at a place like Roche once we set our minds to it.

Roche is…

…thoughtful about what it means to bring on and develop its employees. The onboarding that I had in San Francisco and in Basel introduced me to the company culture and inspired me by exposure to a diverse and highly competent workforce that stands behind everything that we do. I find the culture respectful and focused, but still rewarding of innovation and creative thought. As a manager, I have already had discussions about advancing my team members, and we have been actively evaluating personnel growth for the near future.

In my team/department we are looking for…

…clinical scientists and medical directors with a background in neuroscience-related fields who have a real intellectual passion for this disease area, as well as proven capabilities. Medical directors should have an MD degree as well as clinical experience with neurodegenerative conditions, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Both academic and industry experience are relevant.

Currently, we are searching for a Senior/Medical Director, Crenezumab and a Group Medical Director, Gantenerumab in Alzheimer's disease.

Tags: Career Blog, Switzerland, Basel, Research