6-8 September 2017, McGrath Centre, St. Catharine's College

Building a collaborative UX community for the life sciences

A 45 minute Case Study by:

Paula de Matos

Pistoia Alliance / de Matos UX Consulting

About this Case Study

This case study describes a unique community of UX practitioners working in research and development (aka R&D) in the life sciences. They have come together to share best practice and increase awareness of the business value of UX design in R&D life science organisations. Other industries, such as retail and finance, are way ahead in delivering the benefits of UX, but the biopharmaceutical industry is comparatively immature in successful application of UX.

This community has been created through the Pistoia Alliance, a not-for-profit members’ organisation of life science companies, technology suppliers, publishers and academic groups that work together to lower barriers to innovation in life science R&D and healthcare.

Our new UX for Life Sciences (UXLS) virtual community meets regularly and is collaboratively developing a UX toolkit specifically tailored to this unique domain. There are over 50 UX specialists on the project from 20 different organisations, located in the United States, the UK and central Europe. What makes this community unique is that their companies are in competition with one another, but they see the benefits of working together on an important pre-competitive project. This pooling of resources and sharing of UX knowledge brings huge benefits to individual organisations, and at the same time raises the profile of UX - including to senior management.

Paula de Matos is the Pistoia Alliance UXLS project manager, responsible for coordinating these efforts. This case study will address:

  • the challenges and opportunities presented by a domain-specific UX community
  • why it was necessary to create such a community now
  • what benefits we offer
  • the organisational structure
  • why the Pistoia Alliance provides a safe environment for competing organisations to work on pre-competitive projects.

This case study will also cover the challenges of managing such a large, remote UX community and provide tips and tricks on how to establish one.

About the Speaker

Paula de Matos is an independent UX consultant specialising in complex data environments, specifically in the life sciences and biotech sectors. Her approach to designing in these environments is based upon the notion that complex problems often require solutions from multiple domains and fields. She uses expertise from other domains such as visualisation to solve problems, hence her interest in bridging the gap between these disciplines.

Paula originally trained as a software developer, then moved to bridging the gap between users and developers in the role of Group Coordinator and User Experience Analyst at EMBL-EBI. She has worked as an independent consultant for a number of years, working in diverse fields such as finance, engineering and life sciences. She completed a masters in human computer interaction at University College London. She blogs at www.pauladematos.co.uk.


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