CRO Ora launches new AI project to highlight the experience of blindness

While big patient-led awareness campaigns are typically associated with biotechs and large pharmaceutical companies, in an unusual twist, contract research organization Ora is getting creative for its latest project alongside its life sciences clients.

Ora, which runs drug and device research trials predominately in the ophthalmic disease arena, is launching “The Blind Canvas Project,” which uses patient-based storytelling and generative artificial intelligence in film to both explore and understand the lives of those living with inherited retinal disease, childhood visual impairments, macular degeneration and other blinding conditions.

The project is a collaboration between Ora and BlindCAN Film Festival, which provides opportunities and education for the visually impaired.

The Blind Canvas Project starts like most patient stories, with black and white interviews of blind individuals candidly discussing how their conditions have affected their lives.

On the AI side, "generative AI engines" then transform these interviews into expressive visual artworks. For instance, this can include a natural scene that portrays a view from the woods into a bright sky, divided in half, with vibrant autumnal colors on one side and cooler, more subdued winter tones on the other (as pictured above). There are also two heads looking at each other, one side with mixed-up rainbowlike coloring and the other using red and orange rootlike veins across the head space.

“Participating in this project, surrounded by beautiful artwork and compelling stories, has been an incredible experience,” said Ben Fox, founder and president of BlindCAN Film Festival, in a statement.  

“Even though there are differences in perception, there is a commonality to the human experience of both sighted and those with blindness, that come through the storytelling in this project. We’re proud of what we’ve created in this partnership with Ora, and I think we’ve shown that being blind isn’t synonymous with lacking vision.”

“The remarkable artwork and extraordinary individuals whose experiences they depict inspire Ora’s daily commitment to weave together people, processes and technology to deliver the highest quality clinical research services in the world,” added Stuart Abelson, president and CEO of Ora.