Meet Paulina, RiSE intern at Roche

Hi, my name is…

…Paulina and although I am of Polish origin, I grew up moving between Japan, Australia and Poland. After studying biomedical sciences (BSc) at University College Utrecht in the Netherlands, I continued with an MSc in Experimental and Clinical Neuroscience at Utrecht University and the University of Oxford. Subsequently, I worked as a research assistant at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan and, more recently, I defended my PhD thesis on Parkinson’s disease at the University of Cambridge. Having spent my entire research career in academia, I wanted to find out more about research in industry and see whether this would be a feasible career path for me. The Roche Internship for Scientific Exchange (RiSE), which is uniquely catered towards PhD and MD students, enables me to gain research experience within the pharmaceutical industry and early development, whilst developing a better understanding of the workings of a global pharma company.

My typical day at work is…

…interesting and challenging; it is usually split between planning, conducting experiments and analysing data. A typical week includes reading research papers, keeping lab records up-to-date and lab meetings. Currently, I am researching novel myelination regulators in multiple sclerosis. Usually, my day-to-day experiments include a lot of cell culture and various molecular biology techniques. Additionally, I try to attend as many seminars, divisional meetings and journal clubs as I can to keep up with the current research findings in the field and within Roche.

The location I am working at is…

…the Roche headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. Basel is a dynamic and international city located right on the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany. It is also a hub for pharmaceutical and biotech companies. I live in the city centre and it takes me about 10 minutes to cycle to the office. The Roche Basel site is by the Rhine and boasts the tallest building in Switzerland, the Roche Tower, with a lovely café on the top floor!

My work helps Roche to…

…shed light on the fundamental pathogenic mechanisms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and has the potential to identify some new drug targets that Roche can develop in the future. In MS, neuronal cells lose their insulation (myelin sheaths), which disrupts the communication within the nervous system and causes symptoms such as muscle weakness, problems with coordination and vision, cognitive problems, and fatigue. This kind of early-stage exploratory research into identifying novel regulators of myelination is vital in order to gain more insight into MS disease pathology.

"Roche encourages individuals to broaden their horizons and this internship in particular is a great opportunity to explore both research and non-research roles in industry.

Roche as an employer is…

…supportive and stimulating as it provides an innovative research environment and platform for personal development and networking. Roche encourages individuals to broaden their horizons and this internship in particular is a great opportunity to explore both research and non-research roles in industry. It is also an enriching experience to work in an international environment and, thanks to the flexible hours, I am able to have a good work-life balance.

What distinguishes the science at Roche from your experience at university?

As both my research in academia and at Roche is fundamental and explorative in nature, there are similarities in the projects and techniques. However, I think what differentiates research in industry from academia is that it is more goal-orientated and there may be a quicker turnover of projects. On the other hand, it may be a bit more difficult to follow side-projects or tangents, as the experimental plans are more defined and specific. There is also a lot of collaboration within my division, with many groups across departments working together to move projects forward. It has also been very convenient to have access to the latest technologies and reagents, which saves time and allows faster progress.

How did the RiSE Programme help you to develop?

The RiSE programme is a great opportunity at this stage of my career to find out more about working in industry and explore possible career paths. It also allows me to network within the organisation and be part of a fantastic community of other RiSE interns. I am thankful for this opportunity and I am sure it will be beneficial for my next career step.

What would you suggest to people who are interested in the RiSE Program?

I would strongly encourage you to apply if you are interested in finding out more about research in industry and other positions within a pharmaceutical company. So far, it has been a truly great experience and I can definitely recommend it!


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