Supplementing conventional training on animal cadavers with an educational VR teaching simulation

Director of Gameplay & UX
Director of Animation
User Interface Designer
Agile Product Owner

User journey and story maps
Instructional design & copy
User interface components


The animal wet-lab is an expensive and inefficient facility for training ophthalmology surgeons. Novartis Pharma AG commissioned FundamentalVR to create a learning experience that helps scale the foregrounding of knowledge needed to deliver a groundbreaking gene therapy, thereby reducing the reliance on traditional wet-labs.


The virtual OR as seen by a secondary user on a laptop computer.

The microscope seen in the picture is interactive, allowing the primary user in VR to look through it for appropriate visualisation of the virtual-patient's eye.


A key component of this VR solution was a hardware syringe peripheral. Owing to its fragile mix of electric and hydraulic components, coordinating the work to calibrate, interface with and design a dual-user experience around the device was a constant challenge.



In writing the user journey and gameplay experience, I did not assume to train experts on elementary surgical skills, but rather aimed to educate them on the correct application of a novel drug using a unique protocol. I ensured that the development team embraced this principle throughout.

The simulation was judged by SMEs across four key domains: 1) ergonomics and haptics, 2) comparison with traditional animal wet labs, 3) additional features not available with traditional wet labs e.g. 'hyper-training' and 4) overall assessment.


The assistant to the primary VR user is aided by a 2D interface.

I directed the UI Designer in layout and visual treatment, including guidance on the information hierarchy.


I am co-author of paper Virtual reality haptic surgical simulation for sub-retinal administration of an ocular gene therapy (Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science Vol. 61, Issue 7)



Case Study: SIRIUSVR (2019)

All images and trademarks © 2023 Novartis Pharma AG. All rights reserved.



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