The Broad Institute

Transforming scientific research through design

The Broad Institute, a medical research initiative created by MIT and Harvard University, needed a brand new platform for their latest development, The Metastatic Breast Cancer Project (MBC Project).

To make this ground-breaking work possible, they needed a human-friendly online consent process and patient portal.


As a call for metastatic breast cancer patients to share their personal experiences, medical records, and samples with researchers, the MBC Project needed:

  • A unique and trustworthy brand and identity.
  • A safe platform to invite patients to share very personal data.
  • To set the right tone and intention for encouraging fighters and survivors to share their experiences.

Striking a fine balance, and to scale

The MBC Project’s mission is a sensitive one. Patient-driven research like this is rare, and at the scale we were working with—trust and privacy were paramount. We needed to be mindful that the team was dealing with real people and families currently in distress.

We created an opt-in, fully online experience for patients that required as little time and mental overhead as possible. With our design, getting informed, getting involved, and helping others could be a comfortable and accessible experience, allowing us to reach patients all over the United States.

Telling the real stories

The power of storytelling is what helps turn individuals into a collective—and the stories of each MBC Project participant can turn medical research into a movement.

Since each person who joined the study brought with them their unique story—one that hadn’t been previously shared for medical research—it was important that people visiting the site were confident that the focus of the MBC Project was on helping them and others like them.

Being more human

The MBC Project needed an identity that would bridge the gap between the medical community and the people they serve. We were inspired by the Broad Institute’s pioneering work in genomic analysis and used this concept as a visual touchstone.

The colourful, stacked column in the logo is a visualization of the DNA sequencing used to discover anomalies in patients. The vibrant logo paired with clean type and colourful illustrations made a difficult topic approachable and light.


The making of a movement

Since its launch in October 2015, the MBC Project has seen great success. This patient-partnered research initiative has not only expanded to include other cancers, but it also has:

  • Seen 4,620 unique participant registrations
  • Received 521 medical records
  • Released a publicly accessible dataset of de-identified genomic, clinical and patient-reported data from 103 tumor samples from 78 patients.
Next ProjectEllisDon