Professor Roach received a BSc from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1969 and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the same University in 1972. After post-doctoral experience at UCLA, University of Virginia, and University of Pisa, he joined Indiana University School of Medicine in 1979. He is currently Associate Chair of the Department and Director of the Center for Diabetes Research.
Professor Roach's research has been centered on the molecular basis for biological regulation, in particular, the control of glycogen metabolism. Important contributions include the mechanism of phosphorylation of the enzyme glycogen synthase, understanding the structure, function and mechanism of the initiator protein glycogenin, and the basis for substrate selection by cyclin-dependent protein kinases. Recently, he has been studying Lafora disease in which aberrant glycogen structure leads to a fatal form of epilepsy. The work has significant implications for diabetes and his research has been funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease for over twenty-five years.
Professor Roach has served on the editorial boards of Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. He served on the Physiological Chemistry study section of the National Institutes of Health and the review panel of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. He chaired the Gordon conference of Protein Phosphorylation and Second Messengers in 1991. One of his grants has been awarded MERIT status by the National Institutes of Health on two occasions. He was awarded Distinguished Professor in 2008.