Roche – a great company for scientific application developers

I work in Roche’s pREDi and am part of a scientific software development team. We work on many diverse, interesting projects that are shaping the future of healthcare.

What does doing now what patients need next mean to you?

As a Roche employee and member of pREDi (early research and development) informatics, I am supporting scientists with the systems they use in their daily business to find new medicines.  In my opinion, IT experts are important links in this long chain that supports patients.

And having a 10 year old daughter with Down syndrome, I look forward to the day when Roche can help her and others like her.

I see a day where she is perceived by others - not as a patient - but as a human being who may experience some challenges.  This is  a day when she is helped not only because of a new medicine but also because of digital devices that help her improve her language skills or even communicate with others directly. As technology continues to develop rapidly, I see this potential directly in our team and I try to develop  ideas on this subject in particular.

What is your role at Roche?

I work in Roche’s pREDi and am part of a scientific software development team.  We work on many diverse, interesting projects that are shaping the future of healthcare.  My personal focus is the IT side of software development, architecture and now the technical project planning for systems related to the world of small molecules.  At the moment, my current project is related to a total different domain: the implementation of a new terminology management system for early research and development based on modern semantic web technologies. It is never boring in pREDi.

What kind of people do you need here?

Our small team has a mix of people who have a combination of technical IT background and scientific skills.  As a member of this team, our learning never ends as both science and IT are constantly evolving.

My career journey

Originally I started my career in the area of developing geographical information systems after graduating as “Chemical Technical Assistant” and switching to Mathematics and finalizing my diploma. As an external consultant, I switched my focus in early 2000’s to general software development which brought me back to the chemistry, when I supported a chemical company with their new Chemistry registration system.  That experience gave me the perfect background to join the Roche pREDi Scientific Software Development team eleven years ago and the opportunity to join one of the coolest projects at the time.

As one of 2 software developers (and 2 scientists responsible for the use cases) of the “Next Generation User Experience” project, I helped implement the applications for the Perceptive Pixel – Multi User and Multi Touch environment. 

This was an amazing and fascinating technology which required strong personal engagement to achieve impressive functionality (see videos below).  For me, it was a highlight to implement the “force directed layout” in the “Semantic Browser” in a very short timeframe. This was an impressive visualization and interaction with semantic graph information and as a result this project had quite some external visibility at key meetings such as BIOIT for Roche and pREDi.

My current job

Today I develop software on my own and implement foundational systems.The important skill sets here are technical project management for system implementation and leading small to midsize teams (not just teams located in Basel, Switzerland but also in other locations such as Warsaw, Poland).  Working with researchers in biology offers me the chance to look into new technologies and application development.  We have to be agile and open to using the latest technologies.  We also work together as a team with scientists and IT experts from different countries together with IT colleagues located in Poland.

Besides implementing use cases based on classical Oracle relational database and the standard Java Enterprise technology stack (Weblogic, JBoss, Tomcat), we also use the latest Spring technology or other Java frameworks.  HTML5 Web Applications development is now often based on AngularJS, to implement user friendly applications for our customers in research.  Other team colleagues provide support to biologists to make study data available and evaluable.  They do this by establishing a new platform for omics data using container virtualization based on Docker.  Other examples of using the latest technologies such as implementing graph databases using Neo4j or usage of document stores like MongoDB.

I am really enjoying my current project.  This project is about implementing a new foundational terminology management system based on Oracle Spatial and Graph for our research group called pRED.  As the technical project manager, I take care of the overall architecture and setup for the application using latest Semantic Web technologies.

What is the work culture like at Roche?

In Basel, Switzerland, the company provides a huge variety of health and wellbeing services (for example, a free swimming pool and many sports clubs). We have also free medical service at the site as well as our own fitness center which I regularly use. 

Roche is simply a great employer.

The company ensures that our facilities and workspaces are of best quality and ergonomically fit.  We have an open plan office which can sometimes limit our agile team when we have to discuss topics and the quiet booths are a bit small for that. It is also sometimes a challenge to be responsible for several applications and platforms which can cause many context switches each day.  Still all in all there are always great colleagues that I can rely on to help find the solution to the next challenge.

Tags: Development Engineering, Meet our people, Code4Life