Designing a Neuroscience Data-sharing Platform
Blackfynn, a neurology software startup
Every day, millions of data points are collected on patients with neurological disease, brain trauma, epilepsy, and more. Yet, this data isn’t connected in meaningful ways for patient outcomes. Treatments aren’t effectively shared, data isn’t mined across populations to make rapid advancements; notifications of seizures come too late, labs across the world are working remotely on similar datasets without building on each other's work.
Founded by a neurologist, neuroscientist, and data scientist from Penn, Blackfynn is a cloud based neurology product to revolutionize the way scientists share and collaborate on data. With early venture capital investments, a key question was: How do we create the best user-centered platform that leverages the best of collaborative design with modern machine learning?
Director of UX Design:
- User research
- Ideation of Solutions
- Visual Design
- Stakeholder Collaboration
- User testing
I was the 4th hire of the startup, and thus got to help sculpt the user-driven functional requirements of the platform, as well as visual design.
First, I spent time with our co-founders, learning about machine learning, data sets, training data, and other engineering capabilities the platform could leverage. Then I spent time with the neurologist and neuroscientist, learning more about the problem space, and the naming and use of data into imaging, unit data, or time series data — like MRI brain-scans as images, versus seizure time-series data from EEG's.
Then I spent time with users—clinicians and scientists—to understand their needs, pain points, and goals. What was their work flow on a daily basis? They were shipping hard drives, losing time, unable to read data behind other published studies. What data did they need to keep private, and why? Where did personal research overlap with past research? I further met with leadership of CHOP and DARPA with my team, to understand their institutional needs.
With a clearer picture of the user and their labs in mind, I then I lead the specifications and design of the new user interface. I iterated on prototypes with the engineering team and our clients; getting feedback from visual prototypes before building complicated interactions.
In addition to the functional side of the platform, I also created the marketing website for new users, as we launched at a major neuroscience conference.
Blackfynn has since received partnership investments from DARPA and CHOP, and is building out a robust team of engineers in Philadelphia.