Meet Drew, Principal Research Engineer at Roche Molecular Diagnostics
Tell us a bit about yourself
Originally from Ohio, I obtained my BS in mechanical engineering and MS in biomedical engineering from The Ohio State University. Since then I’ve spent over 8 years working in various roles related to Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), from a bench scientist to a field scientist, and most recently in applications and product marketing. I essentially stumbled into the NGS field, and having seen the impact already being made in the research and medical markets, I decided to continue developing my career in this space. It’s been such a fun and fulfilling journey, and I’m excited to get back on the technical side of things where I feel I can have the most direct impact.
In which Roche location do you currently work and what can you tell us about that location as a work environment?
I’m located at the RMD site in Pleasanton, CA. The facility here is top-notch – a beautiful campus filled with highly intelligent and motivated colleagues. The site is conveniently located near public transportation, which is great since I live in San Francisco and can work on the train while I commute.
Why did you decide to join Roche and why at this location?
I decided to come back to Roche to join the Sequencing Unit research team, because I believe the group is committed to solving the challenges of sequencing that will enable personalized medicine to become a reality. Getting the chance to use my engineering training and professional experience working directly with customers using NGS technologies was the perfect combination for me – making this an ideal opportunity.
What is your current position at Roche?
I am currently a research engineer focusing on automation solutions for enabling a complete sequencing workflow. The cost of sequencing has decreased so rapidly that the new bottleneck is in the sample preparation, where “feeding the beast” of the sequencing platform becomes the challenge to solve. Assessing cutting-edge technologies, I’m tasked with designing and implementing the automation strategy that will enable our future workflows.
How would you describe Roche as an employer?
I’ve had nothing but a great experience working at Roche. There is a significant focus on employee engagement and well-being, and the best part of the company, in my opinion, is a great set of teammates. We realize that we will not and cannot be successful in achieving our goals without everyone being successful. As such, we are encouraged to reach across group functions to collaborate and innovate in other areas as needed.
How are you getting to know your colleagues, not only at your site, but other sites?
I’m still relatively new to the site, but there have been numerous opportunities to get to know my colleagues during orientation sessions, product launch celebrations, and cross-functional group meetings. I’m looking forward to visiting my colleagues from our other sites with whom I have worked via email and phone conversations.
How is your job connected to “doing now what patients need next”?
I firmly believe that sequencing is an essential component to the future of patient care. What patients need next in this area is the ability to accurately and quickly assess genetic information related to their healthcare at a cost that will be comparable to any other lab test. Working on the complete workflow automation is a critical step along the path to realizing this need, and I’m honored to be a part of the team that will develop that system.