Hi, my name is…
…James, and I joined Roche in 2015 straight out of grad school. I’m originally from New Zealand, where I completed a Microbiology degree, followed by a Master’s in Public Health. I then went on my big OE (Overseas Experience, a rite of passage for New Zealanders), and ended up at Cambridge University, where I did an additional Master's and then a PhD in Epidemiology. I love epidemiology, which is the art of understanding how certain factors affect health, but I’m equally passionate about the continual advances in the technology and methods. This attracted me to Roche, where the analytics team has a never-ending source of questions and ready access to domain-knowledge experts as well as to meaningful data at scale.
What does your typical day at work look like?
I’m a data scientist within the PHC (Personalised Healthcare) Analytics group. We leverage data generated in the real world to try and understand both our patients, and our drugs, better. We work closely with others in the PHC group, as well as internal stakeholders and external groups, to map clinical questions to hypotheses that we can interrogate in the data. Being a data scientist team, we have ample opportunity to use new technologies and methods – and while I’m monolingual in the traditional sense, I love being in a team where being a polyglot in statistical and programming languages is celebrated and there is a continual drive to do better science.
The location I’m working at is…
…Hochstrasse in Basel, near the main train station, although our department has adopted an ‘activity-based working model’. This means that rather than having desks, we are nomads that can move to the environment that suits our current task. There are libraries for silent working, open-plan areas for general work, and couches for casual meetings. Being a laptop-based set-up, it also means you are likely to find people working on the main site, or from home. My wife, and daughter, are German, which is partly why I’m also a German border commuter – living 15 minutes by train from the Roche site, but across an international border, in Germany.
My work helps Roche to …
…get the right drugs to the right patients. The PHC group runs hundreds of studies, and within every study we map out exactly what clinical question we need to know about our patients, or how our molecule performs. We then explain exactly how we plan to conduct our study to answer that question. This helps to keep us focused on the fact that the work we do is going to help us understand our medicines better.
Roche is an employer…
…that is very willing to invest in its employees' personal development. I have been offered access to amazing resources like online tools, as well as a rich environment where continued learning is encouraged. We have journal clubs to discuss new papers, and dedicated labs to explore methodological questions and improve the methods we use. During my three years at Roche, I’ve also had the opportunity to spend two weeks on site at Carnegie Mellon University learning about technology innovation, got to plan and participate in hackathons exposing me to new data and methods, and got to work closer with academics from leading universities on how we can leverage our data better.
Why would you recommend to early in career graduates to consider the StarTrack program at Roche?
When it comes to analytics, Roche is an exciting place to be. Actioning Personalised Healthcare (PHC) requires meaningful data at scale, the right questions, and the right talent. The PHC group at Roche and the partners we work with represent a collaborative melting pot where all those elements come together.
With the Roche Group, we have an industry leader in both diagnostics and pharmaceuticals. The portfolio also includes one of the most innovative electronic medical record providers (Flatiron), and a globally present next-generation sequencing provider (Foundation Medicine). These data sources are just two examples of how the Roche PHC group is uniquely placed with the right data to build insights to get our medicines to the right patients, faster. There is a real chance to do innovative, impactful work – making the StarTrack program an exciting opportunity to do great science, for our patients.
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