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Furthering My Knowledge: My Experience in an R&D Rotation Program

Radwa, Sr Scientist, Cancer Genomics



The Beginning

While studying for my PhD in viral genomics at Harvard University, I wanted to explore opportunities outside of academia to use my passion and knowledge to benefit patients. I heard about Foundation Medicine through a mutual friend who worked there (and still does). She suggested I look into the cancer genomics research department.

In early 2018, I met another Foundation Medicine employee at a networking event and he offered to put me in touch with the head of cancer genomics research. I reached out to see if they would be willing to take on a graduate student intern. At that time, the official internship program at Foundation Medicine had not yet been formalized. I am very grateful that the team offered me a chance to further my learning. I immediately found a place where I could combine my passion for research and my desire to work in industry.




Opportunity to Advance My Learning

Most of my day is filled with research, such as analyzing sequencing files. Through that process, we come up with novel research questions. I enjoy the fact that I get to be involved in choosing projects to take on. The research we do is exciting and collaborative, with everyone’s determination and knowledge contributing to our important work.

After three years at Foundation Medicine, I found that while I became an expert on my team, I often didn’t know the specifics of what other departments were working on. There were times when I would finish the research portion of a project, and as it moved through to development, I wouldn’t hear about it again. I’m a naturally curious individual, so I’ve always wanted to understand what other teams do and how our work fits into the collective effort.

So, when Sally, associate director of Lifecycle Product Development (LPD), offered me an opportunity to rotate with her team, I was immediately interested. Going on this rotation would mean working temporarily within the LPD team for a three-month period. I received the support of my manager to leave cancer genomics for a few months and embarked on my rotation.




The Experience

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new role, but I was eager to begin. I learned that the LPD team acts as a central hub, collecting and disseminating information to and from many different departments. With their scientific expertise, they facilitate conversations, identify gaps and plan meticulously for next steps. Not only did I get to do significant work on multiple projects, but I was able to broaden my knowledge of many other teams at Foundation Medicine.

A highlight of my experience was presenting on the work I did to my colleagues on the cancer genomics team. Everyone was so interested in what I had learned, and they enjoyed hearing about the inner workings of the LPD team, affirming the fact that I work with curious and perceptive people.

In a company that works in tandem to contribute to one common mission, I loved being able to connect the dots of how all our work comes together. I hope that bringing my expertise to the LPD team helped them just as much as their expertise helped me as I returned to cancer genomics. Being able to bring a different perspective to my team has only strengthened our research and findings.




Moving Forward

Just like when I started as an intern, there was no official rotation program when I joined the LPD team temporarily. I am excited to see that they’re now building out rotation programs across the company, so that more employees can learn through these exchanges. It’s wonderful to work somewhere where feedback is not only heard, but often implemented.

The opportunity to work on and learn from another team for an extended period was a privilege. I’m grateful that Foundation Medicine provides an environment where employees can further their personal and professional passions. I hope to continue learning something new every day, whether in another rotation or by simply talking to people across the company about their work. When we work together, we support each other in achieving our mission of transforming cancer care for our patients and partners. 

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