Exploring the intersection of data visualization and cancer.

Data are only as useful as the insights we can glean from them.

How might recent advances in interactive media and data visualization help illuminate and solve pertinent challenges in cancer research?

August 2 - 6

Data Viz + Cancer
Designing a Better Patient Experience


The National Cancer Institute, as part of the Cancer Moonshot, is hosting a five-day Innovation Lab to generate creative data visualization and design strategies aimed at addressing challenges patients have understanding their diagnosis, their clinical options, the volume and complexity of the surrounding information, and how clinicians use this information to help patients navigate difficult choices. This Lab is intended to catalyze unconventional, interdisciplinary teams involving game designers, patient advocates, clinicians, and researchers to spur novel ideas around designing for a more patient-centered experience.

This virtual event will take place August 2-6. Applicants must be willing to participate for the entire duration of the Innovation Lab if selected as a meeting participant.

The Opportunity

From the moment of diagnosis, patients and their doctors must make difficult decisions based on complex health information. Over time, that health information can change and circumstances evolve. These changes can trigger modifications to treatment or enrollment in clinical trials, all of which occurs under unusual duress. New approaches to patient engagement based on data visualization, user experience, and game design may help patients better understand their health data, build trust with their medical team, and inform balanced decisions. They can also help patients understand how they compare to broader cancer patient groups as well as help patients more easily find compatible clinical trials. Collaborations between experts from these diverse fields can help improve cancer care as well as the patient's experience of that care.

The Lab

This Innovation Lab will bring together patient advocates and clinicians along with experts in health communications, user experience, data visualization, game design, behavioral science, information science, and health data to form new collaborations and develop innovative approaches related to the cancer patient experience. At the Lab, interdisciplinary teams will work together to ideate and tackle selected challenges in this area. Over the course of five days, teams will form, pitch, and develop project sketches guided by feedback from mentors and other participants.

Meet the Lab's Mentor Panel

Who Should Apply

We encourage patient advocates and clinicians with diverse expertise, researchers and practitioners in data visualization, user experience, information science, implementation science, game design, behavioral science, and anyone interested in how people interact with complex information. Irrespective of expertise, we are chiefly interested in new, innovative ideas and original thinking that arise from new collaborations between people of diverse backgrounds.

Approximately 30 applicants will be selected to participate in the Innovation Lab based on their interest, expertise, and openness to actively engage in interdisciplinary collaboration. Consideration will be given to balance a range of disciplines and experiences. All participants should be willing to engage in frank disclosure and assessment of ideas in a collegial and professional fashion. To facilitate open sharing, all meeting discussions will be considered a private communication and not to be shared outside of the meeting unless approved by the contributor. NCI staff, in consultation with mentors, will review applications and select the final list of participants. All application information will be kept confidential.

Opportunities to apply for existing funding opportunities will be highlighted during the workshop. We encourage teams to develop applications from their project sketches for existing NIH funding opportunities and work with NIH staff to identify appropriate opportunities.

Why and How to Apply

If you’re interested in developing new methods to facilitate patients’ decisions, help them understand their choices and risks, and help ease the emotional and psychological barriers that impede their already difficult journey, then we encourage you to apply. If applying, please be prepared to answer questions about yourself, your work and collaboration experiences, your research focus, and why you are interested in and qualified for the Innovation Lab. Applications will be reviewed internally by the Innovation Lab mentors and NIH staff. Research-related information will be kept confidential. Please share the information with any colleagues you think may be interested.

Application Deadline: June 8th

Apply Now

Data Viz

Data Visualization & Interactive Media are experiencing an exciting renaissance — VR, AR, interactive modeling, and more. What exciting opportunities exist for new collaborations of visualization experts and cancer researchers?

Cancer research

The field enjoys an influx of new imaging technologies and data analysis methods. Could there be synergies with new Interactive Media tech?

Micro Lab Series

Each 90-minute microlab starts with an inspiring conversation between thought leaders from the Cancer Moonshot and creative visualization experts, followed by an opportunity to engage new colleagues from other fields in a fascinating discussion on the frontiers of cancer data visualization.


AUG 31 | 1:30pm - 3:00pm ET
Tracy Fullerton
Director of USC Game Innovation Lab, pursuing experimental design of games in cultural realms including art, science, politics, and learning.
Corrie Painter
Patient advocate and research scientist at the Broad Institute; directs Count Me In, partnering researchers with patients to speed cancer discoveries.
Tracy & Corrie discussed how using games + data can stimulate empathy, build fairer understanding, and empower patients.  Watch their talks & dialogue below starting at around 10 minutes.


SEP 1 | 2:30pm - 4pm ET
Joe Gray
Director, OHSU Spatial Systems Biomedicine, creating a multi-scale tumor atlas and using systems analysis of extrinsic and intrinsic factors affecting cancer.
Sabrina Culyba
An independent designer with experience spanning animatronics to theme park rides, virtual/augmented reality, and transformational games.
Joe & Sabrina explored the themes of using game interfaces and mechanics to research Cancer. Could non-experts be engaged in the search? Watch their talks & dialogue below starting at around 15 minutes.


SEP 2 | 1:00pm - 2:30pm ET
Nils Gehlenborg
Harvard professor integrating visual and computational approaches to support sense-making of biology and reproducible collaborative research across epigenomics and genomics.
Kunle Odunsi
Physician scientist and co-leader of Roswell Park Cancer Center’s Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, advancing diagnostics and treatments for gynecological cancer patients.
Nils & Kunle explored the perils of visualising cancer data, and asked if expert visualisation tools need to be so complex to use. Watch their talks & dialogue below starting at around 16 minutes.


SEP 4 | 11:30am - 1pm ET
Lindsay Grace
Knight Chair of interactive media at the University of Miami School of Communication, exploring social impact through design.
Karen Emmons
National Academy member and Director of Harvard’s Community Engagement Program employing interdisciplinary approaches to reducing cancer risk and health disparities.
Lindsay & Karen had a fascinating encounter, talking about preventative care, its complexity, efficacy, and its potential gamification. Watch their talks & dialogue below starting at around 15 minutes.


SEP 9 | 12:00 - 1:30PM ET
Jeremy Kriegel
User Experience (UX) Director at Audible, Inc. and former UX lead at the Broad Institute, bringing interaction design to open source platforms for big data analysis.
Crystal Mackall
Physician scientist leading Stanford University’s internationally-recognized translational immuno-oncology research program, focused especially on pediatric cancers.
Jeremy & Crystal talked, amongst other things, about themes of data accessibility, data sharing and how ease of use can contribute to better medical services. Watch their talks & dialogue below starting at around 15 minutes.


What are the exciting viz techniques?
What are the data challenges in cancer?
View Lightning Talks, ideas, and commentary from your peers across data visualization & cancer.
Participant-led meetings


10am - 6pm ET • SEP 24 & 25
Collaborate with your peers on how to apply data viz to cancer challenges.
The interactive symposium explored insights and facilitated networking from both industries.
View Last Year's Lightning Talks


We’re looking forward to welcoming experts from...

Cancer Research, Data Visualization, Patient Engagement, Interactive Media, Systems Biology,  AR/VR, Game Development, Interactive storytelling, Clinical Practice, Imaging, Machine Learning, Data Analysis, Graphics Research, User Experience, and more.


View Upcoming Events
Virtual conference organized by National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health
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