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Applying Data Science to Improve the Lives of Patients: Jose's Story

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Follow Jose Zamalloa's amazing career journey from Lima, Peru to the front lines of health impact—and learn why people with diverse backgrounds, like you, thrive at Johnson & Johnson.

From Lima to Princeton: Jose's Remarkable Journey

Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Jose didn't migrate to California until the early aughts. There, he landed in community college. Or, as he put it: "I'm a proud product of the community college system in California!"

After two years, Jose decided to transfer to UCLA. But he still wasn't sure where his path would take him.

"Growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to improve the lives of patients," Jose said. "Only at UCLA did I realize how much I love to conduct research based on my thorough understanding of biochemical processes."

So he started studying small cells: bacteria and yeast.

"They're small, but interesting—and at times tricky," Jose said. A burgeoning fascination with DNA began to take root, as well.

How can DNA—this single strain of letters—have such an impact on our lives?

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Next up for Jose: a master's degree in biochemistry, followed by a doctorate at Princeton in quantitative and computational biology. "The computational aspect of biology really caught my attention at Princeton," Jose recalled. "I switched gears. Now I could study not only a single cell, but many cells at once. My work could be magnified to a much larger scale."

Working with data, Jose began to conduct statistical modeling in the hope that it might uncover cancer features at the gene, protein and metabolic levels. And little by little, the pieces to another puzzle fell into place: Jose was evolving into a data scientist. At the time, this was still relatively uncharted terrain.

As Jose remembers it, "Back then, you couldn't just be like, 'Hi, I’m a data scientist.' No one was sure what that meant. And to some extent, I think we’re clarifying what that means even now."

By the time graduation approached, Jose knew he wanted to work at the frontier of data science and use it to solve real-world problems affecting human health. After meeting fellow data scientist Christel Chehoud at a Princeton career fair, he knew where he could do it, too.

"We Can Solve Incredible Problems": Jose's Real-World Impact

Today, Christel and Jose are colleagues at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, part of a team of young data scientists leading groundbreaking work. For Jose, based in San Diego, that means zeroing in on lung and prostate cancer in particular.

We're analyzing electronic health records on a massive scale, with the goal of identifying individuals who aren’t currently benefitting from treatments. The question we're constantly asking ourselves is, 'How can we make the lives of patients better?'

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Looking ahead, Jose foresees a future in which data science makes it possible to deliver far more precise, targeted and predictive treatments for patients.

"Imagine if we could enable doctors to no longer treat patients as if they're just part of the general patient population," Jose mused. "Instead, we'd capture information from individuals, using big data to make treatment therapies that aren't generic, but specifically tailored to each patient."

Join Jose and Our Community of Data Scientists

Ready to take on new challenges, and be challenged to grow, while moving the needle on the most pressing healthcare issues of our time?

Check out all of the ways you can join Jose as a data scientist with Janssen R&D, as well as all of data science roles we're hiring for today. You should also sign up for our Global Talent Hub—it's a great way to stay in touch, learn more about life at Johnson & Johnson and get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.

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