Turing-Roche Community Activities Personal Story#


My name is Vicky Hellon and I am the Community Manager for the Turing-Roche Strategic Partnership. This 5-year partnership is developing new data science methods to investigate large, complex, clinical and healthcare datasets to better understand how and why patients respond differently to treatment, and how treatment can be improved.

I started as Community Manager for the partnership in October 2021, with my previous background in scientific publishing and health data science. This personal story covers some of the communuity activities and spaces I and the team have set up for the partnership which we hope will be helpful to others working in similar collaborations.

Slack Workspace#

Our Turing-Roche Slack Workspace is one of the first spaces we set up for our community to connect. After we ran an initial workshop we wanted somewhere for participants to continue connecting that was easy to use, allowed asynchronous communication and a low barrier to join. Slack suited this purpose and we have since grown its use as somewhere to share partnership news, ask for advice and share interesting papers, jobs and opportunities, as well as its original purpose of allowing people to connect after events we have run. We also have experimented with coffee chats.

A learning that I think is useful to pass on is considering a strategy for growth of your Slack Workspace or other messaging/social media space. The Turing-Roche Slack grew larger than we had expected, which meant that we had to implement things like an onboarding message and new channels retrospectively rather than considering these needs at the start.

You will also need to consider whether your Slack is open for anyone to join and whether its cost effective to sign up to a paid plan which has benefits such as keeping your message history.

Turing-Roche Knowledge Share Event#

Fairly early on in the partnership we decided to set up a joint event as we felt this would be a great way of showcasing research and different perspectives from both organisations and creating a sense of joint ownership.

We scoped the format of a virtual Turing-Roche Knowledge Share Series which occurs monthly and each time tackles a different data science topic relevant to the partnership’s aims. The event has a Turing speaker and a Roche speaker giving a presentation for 15 minutes each on the selected topic before a 20 minute Q&A session which generates good audience engagement. Whilst we experimented with the format in the beginning we found this really worked ,and its been really great to see the similarities and differences between Turing and Roche perspectives on a number of topics such as synthetic data, AI in clinical trials, missing data, health equity and more. We also have managed to achieve an audience of around 50% colleagues from Roche and 50% colleagues from Turing and wider academia.

We have also run workshops for our research themes (you can read our reports on these here) and are considering joint journal clubs and symposiums/conferences.

Monthly Newsletter#

Another initial activity was setting up a joint monthly newsletter for the partnership. I pull this together and we feature partnership news and events, jobs and opportunities from across Turing and Roche and beyond that would be of interest to the partnership community. With increasing activity from our partnership team members and funded projects, we’ve been featuring more of them which has been nice to have a bit more of a sense of team identity to the newsletter.

YouTube Channel#

We initially started a YouTube channel as a place to host our recordings of our Knowledge Share Events. More recently we’ve added some other video content such as a ‘demystfying’ video series- 5 minute videos demystifying a concept relevant to the partnership’s research and a ‘versus’ video series where someone from Turing and someone from Roche debate data science topics from their perspective. Its been a great way to get researchers involved in creating interactive content, though we would flag that if you are considering doing something similar it will be useful to consider branding requirements of each organisation and whether you’ll need any specialist equipment and/or editing for a more ‘professional’ look.

Fellowship/Ambassador Scheme#

Many organisations, such as the Software Sustainability Institute, ELIXIR and the Turing Institute have developed programmes that allow external researchers to develop skills or projects and become part of that organisation’s community. Often these type of schemes focus on early career researchers, allowing them to develop skills that can benefit their future careers.

We decided this scheme would be good to develop for the Turing-Roche Partnership as it would give participants experience of two organisations and further bolster our community. It has been a lot of work to set up around financial, legal and contractual frameworks, as well as considering how the programme will work in practice- such as balancing the time of PhD students with tangible benefits for them such as travelling to a conference and building up career skills by working on a community based project.

We are planning to launch the scheme in the near future and will share more learnings from it here.