Meet Marina, Translational Medicine Leader in Ophthalmology

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Hi, my name is…

…Marina. I’m an ophthalmologist from Menorca, Spain. After completing a degree in medicine and surgery (University of Lleida) and the ophthalmology training programme (Hospital Clinic Barcelona), I became increasingly interested in the great variety of systemic diseases that affect the eye and its complex biology. I decided to pursue a career as a clinician scientist, embarking on an MSc in autoimmune diseases and completing a PhD in ocular immunology at the University of Barcelona. As a consultant in uveitis and medical retina, seeing people lose their sight at a young age had a tremendous impact on me and made me realise the urgent need for better treatments for our patients. On the other hand, leading the ophthalmology clinical research unit in Barcelona allowed me to learn about the complexity of clinical trials and I soon became enthusiastic about translational medicine. Based on three pillars – benchside (laboratory), bedside (clinic/hospital) and community (patient and public involvement) – translational medicine is about bridging the gap between basic science and clinical medicine in both directions in order to develop new treatments or novel diagnostic tools for our patients. So when the chance to join Roche Pharma Research & Early Development (pRED) came up, I saw it as an amazing opportunity to conduct top-flight science for society and improve people’s lives on a bigger scale.

My typical day at work is…

…quite varied. As a member of the Ophthalmology Discovery team, we are focused on early development programs for retinal and other ocular diseases. Translational medicine is extremely interdisciplinary, bringing together specialists from a myriad of biomedical disciplines. This environment creates cross-functional collaborations between clinicians, scientists and other specialists, which facilitates the discovery and development of new interventions that will be tested in clinical trials. Specifically, the Translational Medicine Leader (TML) is responsible for ensuring the strategic alignment between Pharma Development and Discovery, supporting target and clinical candidate selection, providing guidance on benefit/risk assessments and risk mitigation activities, designing the clinical and scientific content of studies to evaluate and validate targets, and proposing external collaborations to address strategic and tactical needs of agreed translational science and proof-of-concept strategies. The TML heads the clinical expert team with a strong focus on the development and delivery of the clinical development plan.

The location I work at is…

… Roche’s fantastic Building 1. Also known as the Roche tower, this iconic building designed by the famous Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron is the tallest in the country. Its interior is spacious and modern, with an enormous amount of natural light coming in. Approximately 2,000 of the 11,000 employees in Basel and Kaiseraugst from all over the world work in the tower, which creates an exciting, cosmopolitan environment. From my office on the sixteenth floor I enjoy breath-taking views and I simply can’t get enough of the beautiful landscape: the city of Basel, the River Rhine and the ever-green mountains in the background.

My work helps Roche to…

…understand the needs in the “real world” better from a physician’s perspective. And the clinical observations should improve our understanding of disease biology and point us in future scientific directions. Despite medical advances, millions of people still suffer from diseases without adequate treatments. At Roche pRED, our purpose is to take on these tough medical challenges, follow up the science thoroughly and transform it into medicines with life-changing benefits for patients. This is what we proudly dedicate to ourselves every day.

Roche as an employer is…

…a pharmaceutical company that empowers its people throughout the research and development process and enables the brightest minds to unleash their creativity in a well-supported, scientifically rigorous environment. There are wide development opportunities, a good work-life balance, nurtured team collaborations and an exciting framework to generate drug discovery. Roche also thrives on personalised medicine, the goal of which is to find the right treatment for each patient at the right time.

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

My professor in Barcelona always reminded us that every single day our job must be centred on our patients. It’s our duty as doctors to do everything we can to help them in the best possible way.

What has been your biggest opportunity within Roche to date?

Here at Roche we have a real opportunity to test our hypotheses developed from clinical observations and, with the aid of the cutting-edge technology and invaluable, talented scientists, conduct the experiments that hopefully will help us to find new cures for the diseases currently untreatable. Roche is the place where the dream of developing new therapies can come true. Our motivation is to make a lasting impact for the benefit of our society.

How would you describe working at Roche in three words?

Excellence, commitment and expertise.

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Tags: Career Blog, Switzerland, Basel, Ophthalmology