Meet Astrid, Senior Group Leader in Discovery Oncology at Roche in Basel

Hi, my name is ...

... Astrid and I joined Roche in Basel in June 2015. I am a cell biologist by training and have spent the past 18 years working in the field of Oncology. I started my career as a PhD student in the Cancer Immunology group at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and then completed my post-doc at Genentech in 2004. The postdoctoral training at Genentech gave me a great opportunity to see how basic research could be transformed into therapeutics that can help patients. I decided on a career in industry to stay at the interface of turning new scientific discoveries into therapies that help patients. I am particularly interested in the genetics of cancer and how genomic alterations can be leveraged to uniquely target cancer cells. With the recent success of cancer immunotherapy, I am particularly interested in studying how these tumour-derived genetic alterations shape and regulate anti-tumour immunity.

My typical day at work is…

I have transitioned in my career from working as a bench scientist to now managing a team of scientists and lab heads. I spend a lot of my time discussing new ideas and data with my team, understanding where there are issues and how to resolve them, and leading cross-functional teams to quickly execute on our drug discovery goals.  I also spend time working with colleagues in partnering and external innovation to explore and vet external opportunities that can enhance our pipeline.

The location I am working at is…

I work at the main site in Basel, just next door to Building One, currently the highest office building in Switzerland. I usually ride my bike or take public transportation to work. My office overlooks the Rhine and I love to see people floating down the river on a hot day in the summer. It is inspiring to work in such a beautiful location and I love the active lifestyle of the Swiss. It is quite common to see people of all ages, even well into their 80s out riding their bikes and walking on the beautiful footpaths.  

My work helps Roche to …

…help patients by bringing forward more effective and personalised new therapies and combinations that will lead to long-term benefit, and even cures for them.

Roche as an employer is…

As a global company, Roche embraces diversity. I enjoy working with colleagues who have come to Roche from all over the world and bring their own life perspectives to their daily job. The scientists here are engaged and excited about the work that they do. We work in cross-functional teams to discover and develop therapies, and it is great fun to work with such knowledgeable experts from other fields.

In my team we are looking for people who…

Within my team there is one open PhD-level position for a Principal scientist. We are looking for passionate and accomplished scientists who are experts in oncology and have some experience with drug discovery and project leadership in industry. Additionally, we offer opportunities for experienced researchers within our Oncology Discovery team.

What advice would you give a new colleague joining your department?

Be open, and make efforts to reach out to all the cross-functional groups that are in pRED (Pharma Research and Early Development) to support and drive our research. We are a small group within Oncology, but with the power of all the core groups at Roche such as TMO (therapeutic modalities), PS (pharmaceutical sciences), we can amplify our efforts to bring therapies to patients.

What do you do to help balance life and work?

People here really embrace and respect their holidays. So I take full advantage of the days off to get away with my family and enjoy the mountains and all the beautiful places Europe has to explore!

Thank you for your story!

Tags: Career Blog, Basel, Forschung, Schweiz