Grant Writing for Graduate Students

Grant Writing Workshop 2017 Promo Image
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 10:00am to 12:00pm

This hands-on workshop facilitated by Dr. Lynne Milgram will provide research proposal writing support for your upcoming CGS-M (SSHRC, NSERC) and Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) application(s). Please come prepared with specific questions related to your research projects.

Please RSVP to For further details about scholarships and funding please see our website here

Venue & Address: 
205 Richmond St. W., Room 510

External Funding Workshop for Graduate Students

External Funding Workshop Promo Image
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 10:00am to 12:00pm

Interested in applying for CGS-M (SSHRC, NSERC) and/or an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS)? This session will provide students with further information about competitions, timelines and best practices. These are prestigious awards, and all full-time graduate students are encouraged to apply.

Please RSVP to For further details about scholarships and funding please see our website here

Venue & Address: 
205 Richmond St. W., Room 510

ROMEO off-line for service update - May 25

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 5:00pm to Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 5:00pm

Design for Health Open House

Design for Health Poster
Friday, May 5, 2017 - 1:00pm to 7:00pm
Venue & Address: 
205 Richmond St. W., Room 303

Minister of Science and Member of Parliament tour campus

Minister Kirsty Duncan with student looking at wearable art
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 5:15pm

On March 15, The Honourable Kirsty Duncan and Adam Vaughan, MP for Spadina–Fort York, met with President Sara Diamond and members of OCAD University’s research labs to learn about the unique work produced by our faculty and students. The tour included the, Social Body Lab, Health Design Studio, Visual Analytics Lab and Strategic Innovation Lab, all at 205 Richmond St. W. The visit gave Minister Duncan the opportunity to see how interdisciplinary design and science are. Minister Duncan is herself a former professor and scientist, recognized as an expert in the fields of environmental change and its impact on human health.

The tour concluded with MELTDOWN, the thesis exhibit of IAMD graduate student Annette Mangaard.

Design: The secret sauce

Well recognized are the challenges to our healthcare system. Not so well recognized is the role of design in finding solutions.

Design sits at the intersection of expertise informed by the evidence base, clinician expertise, and the lived experience of patients, family and caregivers. Design uses techniques to uncover unmet needs, workarounds and adaptations that can be refined and scaled. Design also uses techniques to bring stakeholders’ perspectives as well as particular product and clinical requirements together.

Taking a design approach from project inception to adoption while involving all stakeholders in the process has been successful both in Canada and elsewhere.  The experience of the UK National Health Service, for instance, has shown a design approach to developing a best practice care pathway for breast surgery can reduce the length of stay from four days to one day/one night. The pathway has saved the NHS an estimated $15 million (10 million GBP) to date.

Katie Sellen and Lorna Ross
Katie Sellen and Lorna Ross

Design meets health system challenges wherever there is an element of a designed experience, environment, service, product, communication or tool. These include the need to leverage technology to connect health information and enable digital delivery across organizations and individuals, through design of interfaces and interactive experiences that fit the needs of clinicians as well as support patient experience. They include the need to provide tools for clinicians to support what happens at discharge, which can comprise design of communications, visual tools, checklists, and services.  In addition, the management of chronic diseases requires design of supportive tools and devices, and solutions that address access and inclusiveness for an increasingly diverse population. This is where design using the latest techniques for accessibility can include everything from architecture and interior design to graphics and illustration.

Canada has a growing number of design success stories to share, including, among others:

  • Developing a mobile system of breast screening in Manitoba using interior design, product design and service design methods, by CancerCare Manitoba.
  • Designing materials to support cardiovascular event recovery — a collaboration between Toronto’s Pivot Design and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.
  • Using design methods and industrial design to develop a personal home-based cervical smear test kit and service by Eve Medical that replaces physician office visits.
  • Collaborating to create a first aid kit for overdose response — a combination of design expertise from OCAD University, community partner knowledge and expertise at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

The design process can be validated through engagement with stakeholders, field testing and evidence-based techniques to ensure the final design has undergone multiple iterations and refinement. Designing with end users, including patients, service delivery organizations and frontline healthcare providers, helps ensure that solutions are designed for feasible implementation and effective practice. In this way, design methods and expertise are the secret sauce — combining key ingredients of stakeholder focus, inclusive processes, evidence, and implementation.

OCAD U is the largest art and design university in Canada with focused design engagement in the health sector. Through its recently launched Design for Health Master’s degree program, students develop the design competencies required to tackle the complex issues faced by the Canadian healthcare system and the communication skills needed to work on multidisciplinary teams.

Design provides a different way to view a problem, propose and explore alternatives, and prototype solutions. Meeting the needs of a changing and emerging societal, structural and technological context of health requires design and design expertise.  

Design methods and approaches are poised to make a positive impact on challenges and opportunities in the health sector.

This article is abstracted from a larger manuscript by Dr. Kate Sellen, who is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Design at OCAD U. She leads the Healthcare and Resilient Experience Research Group and is director of the Design for Health Master’s Program. Her PhD is in Human Factors in Industrial Engineering (University of Toronto).


First published in Hospital News in February 2017

By Dr. Kate Sellen, Health Design Studio, OCAD U
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OCAD U 3MT: Three Minute Thesis Competition

OCAD U 3MT Thesis Competition Web Banner
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 1:00pm to 5:00pm

In three minutes or less convey the essence of your Thesis or MRP to a panel of judges and a diverse audience using only a single slide. The best presentation will go on to represent OCAD University at the provincial finals to be hosted at the University of Waterloo on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

The OCAD U 3MT Competition will be held on Tuesday, March, 7th beginning at 1PM in Room 510 at 205 Richmond St. W.


OCAD U Master's students who have an approved Thesis or Major Research Project (MRP) proposal on file with the Office of Graduate Studies.


  • The top presenter will receive $750 as well as training and travel support to attend the regional competition at Waterloo in April.
  • The runner up will receive $500.
  • The "People's Choice" award winner will receive a $100 gift card. This award is voted on by the audience.


  • You must submit a completed 3MT application form to the Office of Graduate Studies (digi­tally) no later than Wednesday, March 1st, 2017. Visit: to download the application form.

(Please contact the Office of Graduate Studies with any questions).

To learn more about 3MT, visit

Check out UBC’s 3MT page with tips on competing in 3MT:

Check out the 3MT videos from around the world here:

Venue & Address: 
Room 510 at 205 Richmond St. W.

Sonia Tagari, Design for Health Manchee Foundation scholarship recipient

Sonia Tagari is an artist, designer and MDes candidate in OCAD University's new graduate program in Design for Health. She's sparky and articulate, and in 2016 began her career at OCAD University armed with a Manchee Foundation scholarship and duel degrees from the research-heavy University of Michigan in Art & Design and Neuroscience.

In late 2015, the Manchee Foundation donated more than $500,000 in support of Tagari's program, the university's newest graduate offering.The generous gift marks a growing, cross-sector acknowledgement that designers can affect the quality of life and well-being of entire populations through the designs they create, and it comes as the OCAD U embraces game-changing education and research to dramatically improve design practices related to healthcare environments, medical technologies and public health policy and communication. Significantly, it will endow two yearly scholarships in perpetuity.

“In my undergrad,” explains Tagari, “the two degrees I undertook were kept at a distance. But I saw themes emerge in my art practice that were mirrored in my science degree. Design for Health not only exposes me to different ways of thinking and more practical skills, it also allows me to see if a strong link can be forged — connecting art, design and healthcare. I want to act on that link."

In inviting designed solutions to health challenges, the MDes program explores four primary themes — each of which is investigated in studio and via partnered projects: the health context, which develops domain knowledge specific to health, healthcare delivery, communications and technology; research and application, which applies qualitative, co-designed and evidence-based techniques to health challenges; design and innovation, which creates ethical and sustainable solutions; and proficiency and leadership within interdisciplinary collaborations.

"Design for Health provides me with the opportunity to apply art thinking and practice in a way that transcends the personal," says Tagari. "That has benefits beyond myself. It also helps me see differently by expanding the singular approach of the clinician.” The relative simplicity of what she wants — “to be useful” — belies a fierce list of interests that includes lithography, printmaking, illustration, typography, publication design and the human body. Unsurprisingly, she sees huge opportunities in her field for collaboration, and is particularly interested in addressing patient-communication issues in healthcare. “Designers understand the typographical relationship between reader comprehension and negative space," she says, “whereas a scientist might regard as ‘incomplete’ a research poster that incorporates negative space in order to make information more accessible. This actually happened to me during the presentation of a poster I'd created.”

Tagari is the youngest student in her MDes cohort. While she sometimes finds that daunting, she also believes it will further her learning. It’s a very multi-disciplinary group — one that includes architects, web designers, product designers and healthcare practitioners. And as for Manchee scholarship? “I’m completely honoured,” Tagari says. “It really does help.”



'Am I more than a system of cells? Is my body so different than yours?'

Sonia Tagari’s Corporeal (2016) is a multi-media installation that addresses the relationship between a physical and psychosocial identity. It serves as an archive of limited medical data that investigates the level of access one has to personal information and the limitations in knowledge of something so immediate as one’s body. The installation encourages the viewer to investigate the data stored in the cabinet and desk drawers, allowing the audience to search for files, prints and videos in the same way the artist searched for medical information. All records and diagnostic images are sourced from the artist, creating a biological self-portrait. Together, the images explore the intimate and impersonal, familiar and foreign understanding of human physiology. 

Installation components: medical records, diagnostic images, lithographic prints, woodblock prints, CNC cut woodblocks, 3D printed skull + spine, video, lab equipment, found furniture, light boxes.



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Design for Health Graduate Student Workshop with Lorna Ross

Lorna Ross with Design for Health Students and Dr. Kate Sellen, Graduate Program Director
Lorna Ross speaking to Design for Health Students
Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 8:15pm

On November 3, 2016, Lorna Ross, Director of Design at the Center for Innovation, Mayo Clinic held a workshop in the new Design for Health student studio space for graduate students. Students had the unique opportunity to discuss their studio projects directly with Ms. Ross and gain valuable insight into the design process at one of the world’s leading health design centres. Ms. Ross shared her experiences and advice with students, discussing the practicalities of research in health care settings and tips on how to work effectively with stakeholders throughout the design process.

Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation fuses design principles with the scientific method to uncover human needs in the health care environment, which include empathy, creativity, systems thinking and a human-centered focus. Ross’s role directing the discovery and implementation of transformative, patient-centric care models places her at a critical intersection of design, science, technology and industry, allowing Mayo Clinic to speculate with confidence on the future of health and healthcare.

More about Design for Health:

Relating Systems Thinking & Design 5: Leading Thinkers Converge in Toronto

Liz Sanders presents at RSD5 Symposium
Monday, October 31, 2016 - 2:45pm

The fifth Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD5) symposium took place at OCAD University and MaRS Discovery District from October 13 to 15, 2016. The symposium presented work from the developing intersection of systems perspectives and strategic design known as systemic design. RSD focused this year’s event on systemic design for social complexity, such as the design problems of sustainable business, good governance, social services, urban design, healthcare services, human flourishing, and the intersections of these domains. RSD featured leading presenters from around the world with significant research, validated applications, and engaging workshops.

Peter Jones (RSD5 lead chair and OCAD U professor, Design for Health and Strategic Foresight and Innovation) notes: “We are continuing a tradition started a few years ago in Oslo. RSD combines the deep legacies of systems and cybernetics with today’s emerging design practices and teaching to share in compelling talks and intimate dialogue to bear on many of the complex human challenges we all face in an over-modernized civilization.”

The 2016 symposium featured five keynote speakers:

  • Humberto Maturana, founder of the Santiago School of cognitive science, and originator of the sciences of autopoiesis, evolutionary drift, and structural coupling;
  • Aleco Christakis, (with Maria Kakoulaki), visionary of science of dialogic design, leading thinker in social systems design since the Club of Rome’s “Predicament”;
  • Paul Pangaro, a visionary in design cybernetics, now heading the Interaction Design program at Detroit’s CCS design school;
  • Erik Stolterman, Chair of Informatics at Indiana University, co-author of The Design Way (with Harold Nelson), editor of MIT Press Design Thinking/Design Theory series;
  • Liz Sanders, founder of MakeTools, a leader in generative design thinking, human-centered design, and emerging practice, and co-author of Convivial Toolbox.

RSD is an annual symposium presented by the Systemic Design Research Network, an organization that advances the integration of systems thinking and design, to help individuals and organizations take action towards improving the wicked, interconnected challenges facing our planet. For more information visit:

More about Design for Health: