Mobile Detection: California’s First Lung Cancer Screening Van

About the Project



In partnership with Cedars-Sinai Research Center for Health Equality, this Designmatters studio challenged transdisciplinary ArtCenter students to co-create a comprehensive community-based campaign and brand identity for California’s first lung cancer screening van, to be rolled out in Los Angeles and Orange Counties in 2025. 

Learning that California has the second lowest rate of lung cancer screening in the United States, students examined the barriers preventing people from being screened for lung cancer, along with how certain populations and underserved communities are more impacted by lung cancer.

Using the empathetic foundation of human-centric design as their guide, student groups explored concepts that would resonate with the communities served by the mobile screening van and developed an effective community-based campaign brand identity, user experiences and eye-catching mobile graphics that could appeal to broad spectrum of audiences.


“We designed the brief to be broken into four areas of impact: educate, engage, envision, and empower. As we went through the weeks, that remained the focus of what we are doing as it relates to advocacy for cancer screening and then information about where people can actually go and get it done. So then the focus became how can we developing a system that is fresh and communicates to our target audience.”

-Tyrone Drake, Graphic Design faculty

Research and Project Development



At the Spring 2024 kickoff session, members of the Cedars Sinai team provided students with data that has been collected about lung cancer rates and mortality in various communities, and how screenings and early detection often save lives. Cedars shared how a subcommittee was formed to address low cancer screening rates in LA County. Citing the two biggest barriers – lack of transportation and accessibility – the committee developed a mobile van concept to bring screenings into communities. Expected to launch in 2025, the van will be the first of its kind in California.  

Cedars described their intended audience as: people who have a history of smoking at least 20 packs a year and are between 45-70 years old. Latinx, African American and Korean populations are among those most affected by low screening rates – and need to be addressed in the campaign. Students learned how Cedars’ teams have routinely worked with marginalized communities and how partnerships and outreach are often intertwined; therefore, a successful campaign must be tailored for specific communities.

Students were very interested in healthcare engagement in these communities. Reasons for not getting screened were discussed: transportation, lack of perceived importance, language barriers and systemic discrimination in healthcare. Perceived cost and time also were big deterrents for many. Additionally, the fear of cancer itself plays a big role; individuals often would rather turn their heads believing that “not knowing is better than knowing.” The screening van will be set up in parking lots at or near free clinics to reach those hotspots of low cancer screening. In addition to providing lung cancer screening, mobile van staff will conduct research on other health challenges.


“My role was to make sure students had the proper grounding and an understanding of the human element so they could develop empathy before they started designing. We discussed assumptions which evolved the class to transition ideas into personas which they could place into compelling stories. Students reference those scenarios and those personas throughout the class to inform their empathy and design solutions.”

-J.D. Buckley, Interaction Design Faculty


Cedars shared a similar screening van created at the University of West Virginia and examined what makes that mobile unit successful for that location. The mobile unit can be augmented with outdoor waiting areas designed with similar graphics to unify the concept. Finally, students heard a breakdown of the essential elements of any effective health campaign which emphasizes advocacy, education and a call to action. Empowered with information and enthusiasm, students were divided into four teams to begin the research phase. Teams were introduced to the concept of human-centered design which directs designers to develop empathy with their audience and understand motivations, needs and wants in order to create an effective campaign.

Instructors outlined the four focus areas for the campaign: educate, engage, envision, and empower. The system, they reiterated, needs to feel fresh and communicate effectively across multiple target audiences. Cedars provided a wealth of data about cancer patients, screening procedures and other related topics. That data was augmented with reports, journal articles, videos and more. The class connected with subject matter experts and community leaders which offered students unique insights into their target audiences. 

Additionally, students took a field trip to the Kheir Clinic, in the heart of Koreatown, which is being considered as a possible stop for the mobile van. The bilingual staff provided a tour of the facility which offered a foundation for students to later create their user journeys. Students examined how patients are made comfortable and how the streamlined the process flowed from waiting room, exam room to pharmacy window.


“I am very proud that we as a team tied our messaging together. It’s one thing to have a concept and it’s another thing to be able to flush it out or for it to be convincing. But to know that it’s possible that in 2025 we might walk past a billboard and see our artwork up there. It’s a really beautiful experience that we students don’t often get to see — knowing that I can make an impact in this space.”

-Carolyn Hsu, student


Kheir Clinic staff sat down with students who asked about services, the specific needs of the community and how medical staffers interact with patients especially when it comes to translation services. Additionally, the staff brainstormed with students about the overall campaign, encouraging students to consider the benefit/value propositions “What do people gain from screening?” Pain points were discussed with Kheir staff reiterating that for them “the biggest barrier to health is literacy.” Staff reminded students to design asking their audience: “Who is your advocate?” and “How can you be an advocate?” Also, the staff advised that a campaign should show that screening is a worthy necessity: “Let your audience know that they deserve a screening.”

Examining typical health care campaigns reminded students to make sure their concepts don’t fall into clichés. Imagery that is based on fear rarely works, so students need to craft messaging and imagery that promotes positivity. Student teams also had the opportunity to meet and talk with cancer survivors. 

Linda Pura, a registered nurse and cancer patient, shared her perspective on cancer screening, providing personal stories about her experiences on both sides of the journey. Students asked thoughtful questions and heard specific details that they could fold into their research and possible concepts. 

Teams created affinity diagramming, transforming their insights into personas with distinct behaviors, goals and pain points. Students placed their personas into scenarios to construct a compelling story, which would guide them in their design process. Throughout the remainder of the class and design phase, students would often circle back to these scenarios and personas to keep their audience’s needs front and center.


“Our partnership with Designmatters has really evolved. The first one was only our own staff, and now we’ve taken these campaigns out into the community. What we’re able to do in the whole co-creation process is to engage even more stakeholders, and bring in more research and people with their lived experiences. We have seen the impact. And we realized that you can’t co-create without the community at the table.”

-Zul Surani, Director, Community Outreach and Engagement and Operations, Research Center for Health Equity, Cedars-Sinaia


At the midterm, four student teams each presented two initial concepts. Cedars selected two concepts to move forward with, along with pieces of some other concepts that resonated with their goals, and instructors then divided the students into two groups to synthesize the feedback and come up with a strategy. Comments from Cedars encouraged teams to consider folding in the LGBTQ+ community since that population has very high smoking rates. Cedars also stressed the importance of the role of family members and friends in advocating for screenings. Regarding van design, teams examined different options of how to broadcast messaging as the vehicle travels the streets and freeways. Students created scale model mockups and explored vinyl wraps and LED digital applications. 

As they refined their messaging, teams carefully chose words to establish a correct tone of voice that would feel warm, personal and culturally appropriate. Likewise, the visual language – typography, color, etc. — needed to reflect similar goals as well.


“I’m most proud that I tried to keep an open mind with my audience. The project was led by secondary research, so we had few research opportunities to talk with someone one-on-one. But we were all so mindful of our audience throughout the entire term and we created all these assets. I’m very proud that we never lost sight of our audience. Each team member contributed a specific aspect to the bigger project that reflected their own design thinking. We all played a part.”

– Isaac F. Tseng, student


Students Isaac Tseng and Tatiana Khoury have been selected as Designmatters Fellows to continue to work with the Cedars Sinai RCHE team to further develop the concepts for the studio course towards a planned roll-out of the mobile lung cancer screening van and campaign in 2025!

Project Outcomes

Screening Heroes
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Anna Bojolyan, Zi Jing Guo, Taiga Haruyama, Jiaxin Huo, Zhongyu Jiang Isaac F. Tseng, Li Wen-Hsu

Using uplifting and friendly photographic faces of community members and healthcare providers, this campaign embraces the hero concept and how positive role models can help normalize lung cancer screening. Screening Heroes are from the community – religious leaders, peers and family members – and trusted healthcare providers. Posters of the heroes with simple language invite readers to tap a NFC tag with their cell phone to learn more; they are taken to a website which features testimonies that encourage screening. People who have been screened can also share their personal story as inspiration.
Users can download an app to check if they qualify for screening, and if so, schedule appointments, check the location of the van, and set up an annual reminder for future screenings. The voice-assisted app (available in many languages) helps users who want more information. Featuring a friendly voice, the app can assist in public spaces with generic information and has a private mode to discuss medically sensitive subjects.
Branded posters employ a color square around a Hero face; underneath is a testimonial phrase that often is a call to action. Posters and full photography can be placed inside bus stops, community centers, grocery stores etc. Billboards employ muted colors and easily readable white lettering. The brand text can expand to tote bags, postcards and stickers.
The mobile unit design utilizes dark blue and white letters. One side is the words “First Steps Are Hard, We Make it Easy” and also the numbers of screened patients and current wait time. The top of the van displays the words “Screening Heroes” so people in urban high rises can see it. An alternative van graphic concept involves using the Hero faces that can rotate on a large LED digital screen.
Surrounding the van when parked will be similarly colored blue mats to help direct patients and provide a positive and coherent spatial experience.

A Healthy Tomorrow Starts Today
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Wu Bingchen, Carolyn Hsul, Jiagi Huang, Kim Jungwhan, Tatiana Khoury, Zhao Yihang, Jin Yilin, Lu Xiangyu

Relying on familial support as a motivation to get screening, this campaign features thought-provoking graphics that are presented as invitations from loved ones for future life milestones. The visual inspiration for these series of posters are greeting cards that will request attendance from a family member for an upcoming birthday, wedding, graduation and anniversary. Graphic elements of confetti gently outline the posters that will present large text declaring, “I hope we can celebrate my wedding together,” to a specific relative (mom, dad, grandma, etc.)
Universally understood icons explain the program as a math equation – screening lung + mobile unit = happy family. These icons are used in a poster series in high foot traffic areas with the text “Did you RSVP for your lung cancer screening?” Additionally, digital billboards placed in malls and other areas of high foot traffic will alert readers: “You are Five Minutes Away From Our Mobile Unit” among other messages.
The mobile van design features dark blue background with white lettering and the icons math equation. “A fraction of your time, a lifetime with your family” is displayed on the other side of the van. Similarly colored placemats will be placed around the van once it is parked to help direct patients and staff. To encourage patients to keep screening as an annual commitment, patients can write “a letter to your future self.” After a screening, patients fill out a card that will be sent to them one month before their annual screening. Posters with QR code for more information will direct users to a website where they can eventually set up appointments, track the mobile unit for availability, and answer questions.