My journey to find new cancer drugs at Roche

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Malaysia, and pursued my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom. I received my postdoctoral training in Singapore and then went on to join the China Innovation Center of Roche (CICoR) in the summer of 2021.    

What is your current role?
I am a scientist in the Oncology Discovery group. My main role is to identify potential new drug targets for cancers that are currently lacking effective drugs or therapeutics. Here we leverage innovation-oriented strategy and seamless cross-functional collaboration to translate the scientific knowledge from basic research into discovery of new therapeutic targets and modalities. In other words, our job is to bridge the gap between the bench and the clinic to fulfill the unmet medical needs for many deadly cancers. 

What is your expertise or research field area?
My expertise lies in the dissection and understanding of the complex cell signaling process in cancer. Through understanding the cancer intrinsic properties (i.e. the molecular circuitry within cancer cells) and their surrounding environment (so-called tumor microenvironment that consists of immune and other stromal cells), we aim to pinpoint the genes and their products, proteins, that can serve as therapeutic targets to inhibit the tumor growth and to induce their regression through activating their death directly or improving anti-tumor immunity.

What made you decide to work in Shanghai, China?
I strongly believe that scientists should be exposed to different work and “scientific” culture and  environment from time to time. Since the first trip to Shanghai in 2008, I have always been attracted by this vibrant city that holds promises for a bright and prosperous future. I highly value the world-class infrastructure and am most impressed by the speed and newly incorporated technology of many things in everyday lives here.

What do you think is China’s potential opportunity within R&D?
Highly promising! There are many world-renowned investigators and expert scientists in many scientific areas including oncology and immuno-oncology. A great number of high impact discoveries are made every year. A huge talent pool is also produced at the same time that is key to drive the R&D both in the industry and academia. Increasing industry-academia collaboration is foreseeable. Collectively, in many disease areas including cancer, new therapeutic targets and modalities will originate from R&D based in China.  

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