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Meet Iliàs-Georgia, Group Leader Digital Health at Roche

Can you tell us something about yourself?

I grew up and went to school in Greece, left when I was 17 to study Molecular Biology and Genetics in the UK. After spending a few years in postgraduate research, I realised I wanted to have a more immediate impact on battling disease. This is when I got my first-ever job with Pharma, in January 2010, and it was with Roche Basel. I have been with Roche ever since; first in Group Audit and then in Product Development Medical Affairs (PDMA) since 2012, holding various positions in Scientific Communications and most recently in Digital Health.

Please tell us more about your main project at the moment or in the near future – what is it about and what is your role in this project?

The Digital Health group sits within the Personalised Healthcare and Patient Access department in PDMA. Our mission is the integration of digital technologies into real-life clinical pathways to improve care and outcomes. We work with senior leadership and the LifeCycle teams responsible for defining and executing the strategy for our late-stage programmes, as well as with colleagues across different departments, the affiliates and the wider Personalised Healthcare (PHC) community in Roche. Our focus coming from a Medical Affairs perspective is to ensure Digital Health can deliver value in routine clinical care in line with our molecule strategies and our PHC vision across priority areas for our organisation. Together with my team, we look after the Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Ophthalmology and Haemophilia portfolio.

How is this project / your contribution working towards our PHC strategy?

Digital Health is one of the key PHC drivers next to other modalities such as imaging, biomarkers, the “omics” (e.g. genomics, proteomics, metabolomics) and perhaps digital data gets us closest to how a person feels, functions and survives. We seek to understand what types of evidence and interventions are required to make PHC a reality for every patient, and which of these Digital Health can enable as part of our greater PHC offering in any given disease area.

Why are you passionate about PHC?

I cannot live in a world where it takes under a minute to order the perfectly sized pair of jeans online, with all the information, personalised measuring tools, chatbots and hotlines to support me on the spot; yet when it comes to the most precious thing of all, my health, the health and wellbeing of my loved ones and all the people out there living every day with some form of disease, it is still very much a one-size-fits-all approach despite all the scientific and technological advances. Behind every person living with a disease is exactly that, a person; and we owe it to them to give them the best chance in health and life that we possibly can. PHC can do that. We can do that.

What would you tell people, why they should become part of the Roche PHC journey?

Doing now what patients need next…What patients need, what we all need, is the best chance science and technology can offer at treating and managing disease, so we can focus on leading healthy lives doing the things we love with the people that matter for as long as we possibly can. And just like each of us is different, so is the way disease affects us or works in our bodies. This is where PHC can make a huge difference, ensuring the right care, the right treatment is given to the right patient at the right time. There is plenty of work to be done and plenty of room for all to make a contribution, so come join us!

Roche as an employer is…

…the place where I can truly make a difference, where I am joined by people that inspire and teach me.

What's the best advice you ever received in your career, and whom did you get it from?

Do the things that make you happy. This came from Mike Baker, my current line manager. Selfish as it may sound to some at first, it really is about going where your heart takes you, giving your all to things that truly have a meaning for you. We have a tall order to meet, making PHC a reality for every patient. It comes with navigating uncharted territory, breaking new ground. How can you stay strong enough to do that unless you really truly believe in it, unless it really truly makes you happy?

What has been your biggest opportunity to date within Roche?

The day my previous line manager gave me the chance to join what was a 3-person team back in the days when Digital Health in PD Medical Affairs was starting out. I have been thankful to her ever since for her faith in me and her vision for me; sometimes people see in us things we don’t yet see in ourselves. We are blessed to come across such people in our professional lives. Who she is? Darine Ghanem, now Head PHC and Patient Access in Product Development Medical Affairs (PDMA), the youngest-ever member to join the PDMA leadership team.

Interested in learning more about PHC at Roche? Click here for more information.

Tags: Career Blog, Switzerland, Basel, Research