Dream job as a woman in science 

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Beijing, China, where I studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Life Science. Then I pursued a Ph.D in molecular biology and a postdoc in the US, following my passion for innate immunology for which I then finally joined Roche in 2018.

What is your current role and how long have you been in it? 
My current role is a Discovery Scientist at CICoR (China Innovation Center of Roche) and I have served in it for the last four years. In this current role, I act as a research project leader for pipeline drug discovery programs by coordinating multi-disciplinary research activities with scientists & researchers from cross-functions. In addition, as a trained biologist, I am also working on identifying novel drugs and drug targets with the potential to benefit more significant unmet needs. 

What is your expertise or research field area?
Our department (Immunology Discovery Group) provides expert biology support to preclinical and clinical studies to discover and develop new therapeutic agents. This includes contributing new medical hypotheses, new target validation, new project initiation and progression, and executing research plans for nominating new projects. We also have the opportunity to apply our biology and drug discovery skills to assess the potency, selectivity, safety, PK (Pharmacokinetics) & PD (Pharmacodynamics) of novel molecules. 

Are there any exciting projects you are working on?
I am currently working on two discovery programs with no drugs for the targets reported to the clinical trial or in the public domain. This is exciting because we know the molecules being developed in our labs have the market's "first-in-class" potential. What is more intriguing is the cutting-edge science behind everyday research: revealing the world's first-ever protein crystallography, uncovering druggable pockets and mode-of-action associated with a novel target, and applying novel technologies so that we are steps towards feeding the unmet need of the patient.

What do you think China’s difference is in the academic environment from the US or any other country you have worked in?
Unlike when I got my college degree, China is now in the booming season of academic research. The quality and output of scientific research have grown substantially – judging by the most-cited papers globally. To my end, the academic environment in China is now quite competitive due to both the Chinese educational infrastructure and the rising number of overseas professionals joining the renowned local universities. This active change has fostered a strong collaboration between academia and industry in translational medicine, not only in the exchange of science and technology but also in the exchange of talents (as the next generation of drug hunters). 

How do you perceive the work environment to be like in Roche?
  • flexibility in working hours (as long as works/ goals/ critical path activities are delivered on time),
  • flexibility in research (proposing new targets, establishing novel assay platforms, job rotations to other departments or areas of interest),
  • flexibility in career development (choice of people manager, project leader, individual contributor with resourceful internal guidance/mentorship programs)

Are you ready to change your life?

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