Meet Fiona McDougall, Outcomes Research Scientist at Roche UK

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been working in the PCOR Neurosciences group for just over a year. Before starting at Roche I was working as a clinical psychologist in older adult mental health services, mainly treating patients with depression and neurological disorders.

My PhD work at Cambridge University focused on depression epidemiology and I worked on a number of mental health research projects before training as a psychologist.

In which Roche location do you currently work and what can you tell us about that location as a work environment?

I work in Welwyn Garden City which is just outside London. There are great transport links and many people commute from further afield.

I work in a modern, award-winning building with an open space that stretches the length of the building (called “The Street”), where a lot of our more informal meetings take place.

There are also outside garden areas and we have everything we need on site, including a restaurant, a couple of cafes and a gym.

Why did you decide to join Roche and why at this location?

What initially attracted me to Roche was the neuroscience pipeline. It’s exciting to see development across such a broad range of indications and particularly in those conditions where no treatment currently exists.

I was also attracted to working in a team containing a diverse range of professionals including health and clinical psychologists with backgrounds in questionnaire development and neuroscience, as well as a biostatistician with a special interest in psychometrics.

Welwyn is also easily commutable from my home in Cambridge and it’s a unique site in that almost all of Roche’s functions are represented here. This fosters understanding, creativity and learning.

Tell us about what you do in your current role at Roche?

My overarching responsibility is to develop measurement strategies (with a patient-centered focus) for a number of molecules in the neuroscience pipeline. This includes patient-, caregiver- and clinician-reported measures, as well as performance-based tests, such as cognitive assessments.

My work seeks to help us understand patient, caregiver and clinician experiences of a condition to inform what constitutes treatment benefit. This could involve, for example, exploring what a meaningful improvement in quality of life for a patient with depression looks like. In my role I have to be forward-thinking to make sure I’m doing now what patients need next and while also keeping the requirements of internal stakeholders, regulators and payers in mind.Because I work across diverse therapy areas no two days are ever the same and there’s always a new challenge.

How would you describe Roche as an employer?

Roche values its employees and provides us with great benefits and a pleasant working environment. There is strong leadership and my manager is really supportive, particularly with regards to personal development goals.

How would you describe the people working here?

Coming from outside of the pharmaceutical industry, I was a little apprehensive about whether this would be a good fit for me. But my mind was immediately put at ease when I came to interview and met other employees.

The people who work here are genuinely interested in each other and value the individual experiences they bring. They are passionate about what they do, and because of that, there’s a real buzz about the place.  

How is your job connected to “doing now what patients need next”?

A fundamental part of our role as OR Scientists is to ensure we measure outcomes that are meaningful to patients. So our input helps to understand exactly what patients need, above and beyond the primary goal of curing or slowing the progression of disease. I work to ensure that we gather the right evidence so that patients, caregivers, regulators, payers, advocacy groups and others can make well-informed decisions about treatment.

Tags: Career Blog, Research