Employee stories

Unleashing the Power of Data

#digital #innovation #technology #datascience
Published: 2023.06.21.

Meet our colleagues exploring the Fascinating World of Data Science

Welcome to the captivating realm of data science, where the convergence of information and innovation fuels groundbreaking advancements in healthcare. In Product Development (PD) Data Sciences, we are driven by the opportunity to harness the full potential of data, revolutionizing patient care and empowering scientific progress. Through this article, we invite you to dive into the dynamic world of data scientists, discover their invaluable contributions, and explore the remarkable stories of some of our team members who make it all possible.

At PD Data Sciences, our multidisciplinary team comprises experts from diverse fields, including data and statistical sciences, epidemiology, outcomes research, mathematics, programming, informatics, and software development. Together, we create an ecosystem that integrates traditional approaches with cutting-edge methodologies. By combining our strengths and leveraging collaboration, we deliver comprehensive solutions to the ever-evolving landscape of drug development.

Meet Kaspar:
​​​​​​​Expert Statistical Scientist
Breaking Boundaries in Biostatistics: The Role of a Biostatistician at Roche  
Meet Jessica:
​​​​​​​Principal​​​​​​​ PCOR Scientist, Digital Innovation Chapter Lead
Driving Patient-Centric Drug Development: Insights from a PCOR Specialist

Meet Marcel:
Expert Statistical Scientist
Driving Innovation in Drug Development: A Statistician's Tale

Meet Daniel:
​​​​​​​Senior Principal Data Scientist, Statistical Engineering Lead
At the Intersection of Statistics and Software Engineering: Making an Impact at Roche

Meet Kaspar Rufibach, Expert Statistical Scientist

I am a biostatistician working in Roche's Methods, Collaboration, and Outreach group located in Basel. Our mission is to support data scientists across Roche in devising and using the most appropriate quantitative methodology to efficiently develop new drugs and solutions for patients. 

Personally, I work with project teams on challenging statistical and drug development questions; formulate and implement new statistical methodology in collaboration with partners in industry, academia, and regulatory agencies; and train statisticians and partner functions on various statistical topics that are relevant in drug development.

As an expert statistician, I encourage others to challenge the status quo, with the aim of continuously improving the way we do drug development. To achieve this, I believe that a solid understanding of statistical methodology, a genuine desire to collaborate beyond organizational boundaries (both within and across companies, with regulators, and with academics), and an insatiable curiosity are essential. Supporting individuals and the organization in developing and nurturing this mindset is what inspires me to come to work every day.

Meet Jessica Braid, Principal PCOR Scientist, Digital Innovation Chapter Lead

I started my career within healthcare consultancy which gave me exposure to a variety of disciplines including International and National Market Research, Medical Communications, Real World Evidence Generation, Health Economics and Outcomes Research. Working in consultancy gave me a broad understanding of the pharmaceutical development process from early development to post-launch and established my passion for patient-centered outcomes research.

I joined the patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) team at Roche in 2018, located in Welwyn. Our role is to advise clinical development teams on incorporating patient-centric endpoints into drug development programmes from Phase 1 through to Phase 3. As part of my role working specifically in rare neurological diseases, I gained exposure to digital measurement, a novel way to measure patient-relevant outcomes beyond the traditional clinical outcome assessment types (PRO, ObsRO, PerfO, ClinRO). 

My current role is to lead the Digital Innovation Chapter within the PCOR function. This role allows me to work cross-functionally to drive the application of patient-centered measurement science to digital measures across Genentech and Roche, and be a champion for digital measures within PCOR. As part of this focus on digital measurement, I played an important role in a cross-functional team responsible for securing regulatory qualification of a novel digitally-derived endpoint in a rare neurological condition, facilitating faster, less burdensome clinical development programs, with sample size and study duration being able to be reduced by at least 50%. This was an industry first and a great example of “Doing what patients need next”.

It is this sort of work that makes me proud to work for Roche. The ability to work on cutting-edge projects is one of the many reasons why Roche is a fantastic place to work. It allows for continual professional and personal growth in an extremely supportive and collaborative environment.

Meet Marcel Wolbers, Expert Statistical Scientist

My career path brought me from a PhD in mathematical statistics, to work as a study statistician at Roche, to academic research at the University Hospital Basel and at a large tropical medicine research unit in Southeast Asia, and finally back to Roche Basel.

I now work in Roche’s Methods, Collaboration, and Outreach group. Our mission is to support data scientists across Roche in applying the most appropriate quantitative methodology to efficiently develop new drugs and solutions for patients. My work is very diverse: I provide statistical consulting, develop statistical methods to solve trial design and analysis problems, collaborate with statistical engineers to implement novel methodologies in high-quality R packages, teach statistics within Roche and externally, collaborate with academic and industry colleagues, and mentor other statisticians.

I love the collaborative spirit at Roche working with a large number of motivated and highly skilled colleagues on developing drugs that can change the life of patients. Seeing that some of the statistical tools I rolled out at Roche are now used widely gives me great satisfaction. Our business relies heavily on innovation, so there’s never a shortage of challenging quantitative research questions and opportunities to have a real impact!

Meet Daniel Sabanes Bove, Senior Principal Data Scientist, Statistical Engineering Lead

First I would like to share a bit about my career path: I studied Statistics in Munich and then obtained my PhD in Zurich in 2013. Afterward, I started my industry career at Roche as a biostatistician and had a great multi-disciplinary collaboration experience while working on new potential cancer medication projects for almost 5 years. In 2018 I made a switch to work at another company as a data scientist, in a completely different business, namely advertising. However, I felt that longer term I really wanted to work again in healthcare to make a difference for patients, so after some search, I found that Roche is (still) the best place to work and rejoined Roche in 2020.

For the last 3 years, I have been working in Roche at the interface of Statistics, Software Engineering and pharmaceutical development. I love this space, and it is my dream job - because I can live my passions and use my skills in a very meaningful way. I have founded the Statistical Engineering team now comprising more than a dozen colleagues. Most of them work part-time on the R package, Shiny modules, and code template projects. We can publish most of our work, whether that is in package repositories, journals, or conferences. This allows us to seamlessly collaborate across companies and with academia. We can improve the statistical software together, which benefits everyone, and last but not least the patients when our research becomes more efficient and effective. For example, last year we started a working group on software engineering in Biostatistics, and now we have more than 35 members from more than 25 institutions. 
I believe that Roche is the best place for growing professionally and personally and to make an impact on the health of patients, by leveraging all your skills.