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Meet Aijing, Senior Data Scientist at Roche

Hi, my name is…

…Aijing. I joined Roche in 2006 after I finished my PhD in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Prior to my PhD, I studied preventive medicine and worked in the department of epidemiology at the Medical University of Shanghai (now part of FuDan University), China. In the past 12 years at Roche, I have worked in different departments as a biostatistician or epidemiologist in drug development and market access.

My typical day at work is…

…varied. As a data scientist, I am involved in many strategic discussions concerning drug development and market access for assigned molecules. I lead the strategy on how to use real world data (data collected in routine clinical care) to optimise the development of innovative medicine and speed up the patient’s access to it. I also have many interactions and collaborations with external stakeholders (e.g. hospitals, registries). My daily job is a mixture of meetings and scientific work, which includes designing studies and protocols and preparing statistical analysis plans.

The location I am working at is…

…the Roche tower. Soon we will move to the Roche tower, which is the highest building in Switzerland. I normally cycle to work. It is faster than taking public transportation and also makes me fit. We don’t have a designated desk. The ‘activity-based working model’ provides a lot of flexibility and offers the chance to meet more people and even work from home. In the offices, there are lounges for coffee breaks or informal meetings. There are also many quiet booths and meeting rooms of different sizes.

My work helps Roche to…

…do now what patients need next. Roche is a company that aims to provide personalised healthcare (PHC). The idea is to get the right drug to the right patient at the right time. How can we do this? And how can we apply real world data? Data scientists have a responsibility to identify and apply meaningful data at scale to address important research questions. These research questions include understanding disease history, treatment patterns, effectiveness and safety, use as external control, etc. Addressing these questions could help optimise the design of clinical trials, obtain faster regulatory approval, and gain faster market access. In the end, patients could get the right drug much quicker.

Roche as an employer is…

…a nice employer. Roche is a family-run pharmaceutical company. It has a long-standing reputation for treating employees well. In the past 12 years at Roche, I had the opportunity to work in different departments. Regardless of where I worked, I had the chance to attend internal or external courses and conferences. We are also encouraged to publish our work at important conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. Roche cares about the wellbeing of its employees. There is a swimming pool, a fitness centre, yoga courses and other fitness facilities on site. People can work in a flexible way, including working from home. Managers care about their employees’ career development. They discuss the development plan together with the employee and give guidance on the next steps.

Why would you recommend to early in career graduates to consider the StarTrack program at Roche?

Working in pharmaceutical companies is very different from working in academic groups. There are so many things to learn, and these things can’t be learned from textbooks. - you have to learn by doing. Starting early will help you understand the whole process of developing a drug and making it available to patients. The StarTrack program provides a great opportunity to learn early on. Many exciting things are happening in the PHC department. Roche has acquired Flatiron and Foundation Medicine, both companies that drive Roche to enhance the development of personalised medicines. People have the opportunity to work on different types of data, collaborate with external therapeutic experts, apply advanced analytics, etc. Therefore, Roche provides a great platform and opportunities for people to develop in these areas.

Interested in learning more about the StarTrack program at Roche? Click here for more information.

Tags: Career Blog, Switzerland, Basel, Research