GSW to Explore Virtual Reality's Role in Empathy as Presenter at Cannes Lions 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 3, 2016 — (PRNewswire) —  GSW, an industry leader in healthcare advertising and an inVentiv Health company, has been named a speaker for the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. GSW will present "The Science and Art of Empathy" from 16:30 to 17:00 on Saturday, June 18, on the Health in Focus Stage.

Dave Sonderman, GSW Chief Creative Officer, will moderate a conversation between Jane Gauntlett, writer, producer and founder of the In My Shoes project, an internationally recognized empathy project, and Dr. Helen Riess, a psychiatrist, professor, entrepreneur and highly respected voice for healthcare transformation through empathy. Together, they will explore what future health content may look like.

"For decades, creative professionals have been looking for ways to step inside another's feelings and experiences. Now science and technology are giving us immersive tools to virtually feel what another human is experiencing," said Sonderman. "Our presentation marries the science and the art of empathy and explores the benefits of a better understanding of one another."

"The Science and Art of Empathy" will bring together two very interesting dynamics on the Cannes stage. Dr. Riess will share her experiences at Harvard, where researchers have identified and quantified our psychological and physiological responses to empathy. She will also highlight work at Massachusetts General Hospital, which indicates that empathy training benefits bedside manner, health literacy and even health outcomes. Ms. Gauntlett will advocate for augmented reality as a powerful human connector based on her journey as an epilepsy patient and her desire to communicate the incommunicable through storytelling and innovative technology.

In addition to "The Science and Art of Empathy" session, GSW will also:

  • Sponsor the closing Cannes Lions Health Gala at 19:30, Sunday, June 19, at The Terrace, Palais des Festivals with inVentiv Health sister agencies PALIO and inVentiv Health PR Group.
  • Participate in a live innovation challenge as Lions Health teams up with RB, the global leader in consumer health and hygiene, and international children's charity, Save the Children, to help tackle the world's largest environmental health risk – air pollution. GSW Associate Director of Innovation, Travis Rooke, will join representatives from top international advertising, creative, marketing and digital agencies, as well as members of RR's marketing teams, for a series of creative workshops. These workshops will provide collaborative forums to develop innovative solutions. This event will take place at 11:00, Sunday, June 19, at the Palais des Festivals. All Lions Health delegates are invited to join the audience.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Connect onsite at Cannes with Dave Sonderman at @dsondermanLinkedIn or GSW's Chief Innovation Officer, Leigh Householder, at @leighhouseLinkedIn.

About the Speakers
Speaker: Jane Gauntlett, writer, producer and founder of the In My Shoes project. In 2011, Jane started In My Shoes. This empathy project is an ever-expanding library of multi-sensory experiences that use interactive theatre, technology (audiovisual and VR), touch, taste and smell to recreate real-life, first-person documentary experiences. The project has led to her working with people who live with disabilities and mental illness, artists, politicians, doctors, universities and scientists. In 2015, Jane designed, wrote and produced a 13-minute recreation of an epileptic seizure she had in a London restaurant using virtual reality.

Speaker: Dr. Helen Riess, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Dr. Riess is a psychiatrist who developed an empathy training approach based on groundbreaking research in the neurobiology and physiology of empathy that has been rigorously tested in pilot studies and a randomized, controlled trial at MGH. The tools are designed to teach methods for recognizing key nonverbal cues and facial expressions in patients as well as strategies for dealing with one's own physiologic responses to highly emotional encounters. "People tend to believe that you are either born with empathy or not," said Riess. "But empathy can be taught, and you can improve." Riess has previously spoken at TEDxMiddlebury.

Presenter: Dave Sonderman, Chief Creative Officer at GSW, part of inVentiv Health. Dave leads technology, creativity and user experience disciplines as a single creative force with a passion for human insights and insistence on "creative without caveats." At GSW, he crafted and championed the agency's Speak People platform, a call to arms for healthcare to translate the complex and clinical into the understood and the motivating through storytelling, authenticity and simplicity. The award-winning Speak People Experiments take a provocative and disarming look at how health brands communicate compared to non-health brands. Dave's work has been recognized by Clio, Cannes Lions, The Globals, One Show RX, Med Ad News, and MM&M. He has won national ADDY and DTC awards.

About GSW and inVentiv Health
GSW, part of inVentiv Health, is a full-service healthcare communications agency that goes beyond advertising to create personalized brand experiences that involve, inspire, educate and activate people through ongoing brand journeys. Building partnerships with pharmaceutical, biotech and health-and-wellness clients in 18 major markets around the world, GSW creates marketing solutions through a comprehensive and wide array of services.

Integration with inVentiv Health public relations and medical communications agencies drives complete communications solutions that build corporate and brand value and deliver on the bottom line. For more information, visit

inVentiv Health, Inc. is a global professional services organization designed to help the biopharmaceutical industry accelerate the delivery of much-needed therapies to market. Our combined Clinical Research Organization (CRO) and Contract Commercial Organization (CCO) offer a differentiated suite of services, processes and integrated solutions that improve client performance. With more than 14,000 employees and the ability to operate in more than 90 countries, we enable clients to successfully navigate an increasingly complex environment. For more information, visit  

Contact: Elizabeth Stelzer 
614 315 8769
Email Contact

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