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It wasn’t until 1909 that an in-house research department was created at Roche. Although it may seem obvious today, back then it was a bold idea. The move away from a single scientist staring through a microscope towards a team of people working together to develop innovative medicines marked a whole new way of looking at science. As the first head of the research department, biochemist Markus Guggenheim (pictured above in 1915, far right) kept in contact with numerous scientists from various fields. He believed the only way to push science forward was to exchange ideas with chemists, physiologists, pharmacologists and clinicians to collect multiple perspectives.

Innovation needs people of different cultures, ethnicities, personalities and scientific disciplines. Diverse thinking is what unlocks new ideas.
Alexander NelsonRoche scientist, on his recent breakthrough in cancer testing

In May of 1916, there was a laboratory explosion in Grenzach, Germany. Luckily, there were no fatalities, but Markus completely lost his eyesight in the accident. While healing and learning Braille, he remained committed to his scientific research. By 1920 – the same year of Fritz Hoffmann’s untimely death – he completed his fundamental work on biogenic amines. This research, which received widespread acclaim, enhanced Roche’s standing in the scientific community even more.

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