Improving health and healthcare for all, with design.
We design products and services that address challenges and unmet needs in health and healthcare.
We do this by putting people and their needs at the centre of our collaborative design process.
Our process includes evaluation of new ideas through user testing and clinical trials, to ensure that they lead to better outcomes, experiences and equity.
We extend our impact by educating researchers and healthcare leaders in our methods, and fully believe in the power of sharing.
Who we are
The Helix Centre is a research lab for design and health co-founded by two world-renowned universities, Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. We are a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, designers, behavioural scientists, technologists, clinical experts, and public engagement professionals.
Uniquely located at St Mary's Hospital in London, we have strong relationships with staff, patients and diverse communities, who we work alongside to ensure that people and their needs are at the centre of everything we do.
Our work includes multi-year, cutting-edge scientific research programmes that allow us to develop deep expertise, as well as shorter-term project work for healthcare organisations wanting to address high-priority challenges.
Meet the team
Lord Ara Darzi
Lord Darzi is a Professor of Surgery and Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. Research led by Professor Darzi is directed towards achieving best surgical practice through innovation in surgery and enhancing patient safety and the quality of healthcare. In 2007, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health. Upon relinquishing this role within central government, Professor Darzi sat as the UK’s Global Ambassador for Health and Life Sciences until March 2013. Professor Darzi was appointed and remains a member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council since June 2009.
Paul is the Rector of the Royal College of Art (RCA). Prior to 2009, he was Director of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, where he initiated ‘Design for the Other 90%’, a programme exploring sustainable design solutions for the developing world. He is a Trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum and sits on the Ashmolean Museum Board of Visitors. He is also a member of the Programme Advisory Committee of the Wellcome Collection, Wellcome Trust.
Leila has nearly 20 years' experience in developing and scaling healthcare technology from concept to launch. Prior to joining Helix, she was part of the executive management team at NHS Digital where she led key national delivery initiatives as part of the Covid response, as well as shaping the strategy for delivery of digital and data architecture for the NHS. Before this, she was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, leading multi-disciplinary teams to deliver tangible impact in areas including wearables, advanced analytics, and commercial strategy. Leila began her career as CTO of Imperial spin-out DNA Electronics, a developer of point-of-care diagnostics. She has a PhD in Electronic Engineering, holds multiple patents, and has extensively published novel analytical techniques in high-impact journals.
Jodie is the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Officer at the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI). Jodie helps to ensure meaningful involvement of patients, carers and public members in research and design projects at IGHI. She sits in the Design Strategy Team, who also work in a cross-cutting way with researchers, clinicians and patients, to ensure projects and services are designed with patients at the centre. Prior to joining the Helix Centre, Jodie worked as Research Manager for the Diabetes Research Steering Groups at Diabetes UK and had a particular focus on the use of research to tackle health inequalities in diabetes. She holds an MSc in Global Health and Development from UCL.
Gianpaolo is an Industrial Designer with over 10 years experience in product design and development in healthcare. Since joining Helix, Gianpaolo has applied his product design skills in different projects including improving uptake to bowel cancer screening and reducing pressure ulcers caused by oxygen therapies. He currently leads our work in neurorehabilitation where he is working with stroke survivors and clinicians to develop solutions to improve arm rehabilitation. Before joining Helix he was a Senior Research Associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design where he led the design work on the award-winning redesign of the UK ambulance. Gianpaolo holds a joint MA/MSc from the RCA and Imperial.
Alex is a designer within the Design Strategy Team at the Helix Centre, and works on projects concerned with improving quality of life in our later years through monitoring for early signs of age-related decline and reviewing the approach to care at the end of life. With a cross-disciplinary background in biomedical science and design engineering, he synthesises technical understanding of healthcare-related issues with a human-centre approach to design. He has previous experience in healthcare innovation as COO and founding team-member of Charco Neurotech, a startup that developed a wearable, non-invasive device and accompanying support ecosystem that ameliorates the movement symptoms of Parkinson's disease using vibrotactile stimulation and cueing. He holds a BA in Biomedical Science from the University of Oxford and an MA/MSc in Innovation Design Engineering from Imperial College and the Royal College of Art
Research Lead, Palliate
Calandra is the research lead for the Palliate project with the Helix Centre. In this role she will be evaluating interventions to support lay carers administering anticipatory medicines to loved ones at home at the end of life. Calandra’s PhD studies utilised mixed methods to evaluate current prescribing practice, indication documentation, and the use of a new indication-based, patient-specific prescribing tool. Calandra has recently published her systematic review and narrative synthesis in the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal. As a former paediatric intensive care nurse, Calandra seeks to improve the translation of research into improvements in clinical practice at the bedside.
Alice is a designer working on a variety of projects at Helix bringing a practical approach to user centred design. She is working with Sussex Integrated Care System on developments to their shared care record and with the London Office for Technology and Innovation on an intervention to reduce isolation amongst people living with dementia. Alice has also co-ordinated the Healthcare and Design Masters module run by Helix for students at RCA & Imperial. Prior to joining Helix Alice worked at the BBC, designing digital tools for content creators and experiences for audiences that help them find the most interesting things within the BBC for them.Alice studied BSc Product Design and Management, culminating in the design of a Mascara package that does not rely on vision in order to apply cosmetics.
Matthew is a theme lead and Senior Designer, and the Human-Centred Design Lead in the UK DRI Care Research & Technology Centre (CR&T). He brings over a decade of experience in conducting participatory design projects in challenging areas of healthcare, including a clinical task management platform (bought by Google DeepMind), an Advance Care Planning Platform (SBRI Healthcare), the ReSPECT process (used throughout UK), and an emergency paediatric clinical decision support tool (Dosium). Since 2019, he has focussed on designing with people affected by dementia. He works across CR&T to bring public and participant input into the development of software interfaces and devices from Imperial's labs. During the pandemic he developed techniques to co-design with participants online, resulting in Community Makers, and a LOTI funded project.
Sophie is a human-centred designer and researcher focused on intuitive and inclusive design of products and services to improve quality of life. She has worked and studied internationally across UK, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York, bringing a global perspective to social design challenges. Previous experience has led her to work with clients including Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Kering, Design Trust and exhibiting works at Salone del Mobile and London Craft Week. Sophie worked on third-sector projects across these locations, bringing a sensitivity towards local culture and community to her design approach. She holds an MA/MSc in Global Innovation Design from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.
Damion has been working in the Healthcare sector for over 17 years working with Business Intelligence Systems for the Pharmaceutical industry and data support systems for NHS clients. He has worked designing and implementing local UK and Global solutions specialising in database design and management and analytical front-end development. More recently after completing an MSc in Computer Vision, Robotics and ML, he migrated to healthcare research systems, working with the UK Dementia Research Institute based at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre and the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) at the of the University of Surrey. In this role he worked closely with the Department of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London implementing Software Systems and Healthcare Device Integration.
Clinical Research Fellow
Ahmed is a Surgical Registrar sub-specialising in Oncoplastic Breast Surgery. Coming towards the end of his surgical training, he has taken time out for research and is completing a PhD at the Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI), Imperial College London. His PhD focuses on the use of Wearable Technology in rehabilitation. He is working as part of the OnTrack team on the use of Wearable Technology in neurorehabilitation post stroke and post-operative upper limb rehabilitation for Breast Cancer patients undergoing axillary surgery.
Anna is the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Lead at the Institute of Global Health Innovation. Anna works across the IGHI (including the NIHR Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC), the Helix Centre for Design and the Centre for Health Policy) to support the meaningful involvement of patients, carers and public in research. Anna sits in the Design Strategy Team (DST), who also work in a cross-cutting way with researchers, clinicians and patients across the IGHI. Anna and the DST are looking to engage and involve the public in innovative ways around complex topics including data sharing (www.datacanofworms) and hearing loss (www.hearingbirdsong.com).
Clare is a qualified Social Worker with professional experience working in both hospital and community care settings. Clare works in behavioural science as part of Change Lab, as well as within product innovation at Helix. Clare was previously PPIE Lead (maternity cover) at Helix and is experienced in managing Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) through interagency working between the NHS and charity sector. Clare completed a MSc in Global Health at Maastricht University, and led an evidence-informed public health project in Bogotá, Colombia. Clare works in a cross-cutting way in partnership with researchers, clinicians and patients. Clare is passionate about a holistic, person-centred and social justice approach to health.
Fiona is a qualified doctor from Trinity College Dublin with a background in management consulting who brings this unique combination of experience to her role as Data Health Policy Fellow, always ensuring that the patient is at the centre of all the work that she does. Prior to joining the Helix Centre, Fiona worked at Accenture on a broad range of projects with public and private sector healthcare clients. Fiona is currently completing a MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Senior Software Engineer
Brian works with clinicians and designers to build products across mobile, desktop and server-side. He has gained lead development experience in both start up companies and larger organisations, and has a particular interest in applications that seamlessly integrate sensor and wearable data to provide a great user experience. Brian strongly believes that technology can change human life for the better.
Madeline is a researcher on the Healthy Aging project at the Helix Centre. She recently graduated from the University of Oxford's Translational Health Science MSc where she focused on how to integrate patient, carer, and clinician voices into the research funding process. Most recently, she collaborated with the NHS and the University of Oxford to measure the impact of arts interventions on older adult populations. The majority of Madeline's work has been in the public health sector, centring on overdose prevention and mental health promotion. Madeline is interested in how multi-sector collaborations can bring about effective, person-centric healthcare.
Ivor is a designer, developing new ways of thinking about and experiencing death and dying in the 21st century. His expertise includes design research, communication and product design. He leads the end-of-life care project at the Helix Centre, and co-founded the first Helix Centre spin-out venture, Digital Care Planning. He co-leads the development of Cove, a flagship mental health app available on the NHS, with his social tech company Humane Engineering. He is visiting lecturer at Imperial College London, and was visiting professor of Information Design at the University of Venice from 2014–2016. Prior to joining Helix, Ivor was an art director at Tellart and studio director at the Italian research centre, Fabrica.
Our work relies on funding from a range of funders across UK Research and Innovation, grants from healthcare innovation funds, and generous philanthropic donations.