Diane Gromala, PhD
Simon Fraser University School of Interactive Arts and Technology

Diane Gromala, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor at Simon Fraser University and Founding Director of the Pain Studies Lab. Her award-winning, pioneering work is in VR for chronic pain. Used in clinics, hospitals and homes, her VR systems are recognized  in health, computer science and interaction design by Google, Cannes’ Health Lions and the U.S. Congress, to name a few. Bridging health and technology, her research focuses on the overlapping roles of clinical need, patients’ lived experience and the design of VR systems to ensure that therapeutic goals can be met, personalized and sustained.
Dr. Gromala emphasizes an evidence-based, biopsychosocial approach to developing VR systems that include patients, their caregivers, health experts and other stakeholders — from co-design to validation in RCTs and longitudinal studies. She develops VR systems with her collaborative team of prominent pain researchers and clinicians, neuroscientists, diverse tech experts, patient-partners, pain non-profits and industry partners. Results of her multi-faceted research as a Canada Research Chair include the discovery of sensorial sensitivities of patients, what specific VR content and interactions are triggering, how to overcome barriers to adopting VR/XR for home use, and the importance of personalized design that uniquely respects patients’ uncertainty, adaptive needs and social-cultural milieux.
Dr. Gromala’s industry experience at Apple Computer in the 1980s informs her emphasis on human-centered computing “for the rest of us,” insists on ease-of-use and clinical turnkey systems that measurably work.