Current Students Research Presentations at the American Association of Anatomists (AAA)

Graduates of the BVIS program are unique and skilled artists with advanced education in medical and life science while continuing to develop their critical and analytical skill as well as  visual language. Through the program, students learn how to translate complex scientific information into visual images while simultaneously collaborating with scientists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. The pinnacle of the program is the genesis of a research project; requiring extensive research, visual problem solving and scientific testing of the student’s visual solution. Scientific and biomedical visualization is still a relatively new discipline and as such, many of our graduates are on the forefront of innovation and discovery. In the next few blog posts, we hope to elucidate what biomedical visualization research is and the visualization problems our students are tackling.

Recently, four BVIS students’ research has been accepted for poster presentation at the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2017.  The meeting will be held at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago from April 22-26, 2017. We reached out to these extraordinary visual researchers to learn more about their current work: 

Esther Ng

Development of an effective iBook to educate veterinary students about the ovariohysterectomy procedure on small animals.

Project Concept To date, the veterinary students at University of Georgia (UGA) have been required to learn the small animal ovariohysterectomy, known as spaying procedure, on their own. The surgery involves the removal of ovaries and is among the most commonly performed surgeries. Although the procedure is a routine procedure, it is technically demanding and is considered as a foundation for other advanced surgeries. In this project, a comprehensive surgical guide will be created to teach the spaying technique, its related anatomy, complications and potential consequences. It will include text, illustrations, short animations and interactive 3D models in the format of an iBook. Current educational visuals about spaying are limited and inaccurate. Images that are inaccurate or difficult to interpret can place stress on the students. The lack of knowledge and competency pertaining this procedure could be detrimental to both the students’ learning experience and to the pets’ health.  Stress affects the student’s ability to recall information and impairs judgement.  Visually dynamic and interactive elements have been proven to enhance the quality of learning for students and facilitate recollection even in stressful situations. This guide will be designed not only to effectively teach this technique, but to support the students’ memory and promote interest.


Tiffany Raber

An Interactive Program Incorporating 3D Models and 2D Illustrations for Enhanced Prostate MRI Training

The need for radiology education has never been greater, as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques are rapidly improving in quality and resolution. Radiologists are relied on to accurately detect, diagnose, and stage pathological structures to treat a variety of medical illnesses and increase patient survival.1 Diagnosing prostate cancer has remained challenging for radiologists due to the complex multiparametric (mpMRI) approach used to best combat its large range of severity and characteristic discrepancies.2 With this approach, radiologists are expected to compare multiple complex two-dimensional modalities with one another and then translate the found pathology back into the patient’s prostate in three dimensions. This can be challenging, especially if one’s spatial reasoning is limited.

This interdisciplinary project, in collaboration with University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago, aims to create an educational tool that will aid radiology residents in the process of learning how to detect and evaluate common pathological cases in prostate cancer. In comparison to existing modules that lack interactive components, additional visualizations, and real-life application, this project will exist as a multimodal learning environment that is user controlled and practical to clinical application. Radiology residents will then be asked to evaluate the included case studies, assessment tools, pacing and the interactive components of this educational module.


Christina Sidorowych

Visualizing Human Embryonic Development of the Heart’s Outflow Tract

Human embryology provides a logical basis for understanding the overall organization of the human body and offers students the scientific basis for understanding mechanisms underlying both normal and abnormal development. The development of the human heart is one of the most complex processes to study in embryology. The heart is undergoing complex folding and various views and angles are needed to visualize this, making it very difficult to comprehend and learn the developmental process. Visualizing the 3-dimensional changes that include complex twisting and folding during the heart’s outflow tract development is especially difficult.

With the collaboration of both content experts, anatomy professor Dr. Callum Ross from the University of Chicago and anatomy professor Dr. Douglas Cotanche from the University of Illinois at Chicago, this research project will develop a 3D interactive program. This project will investigate how to best visually communicate the formation of the heart’s outflow tract in a concise and efficient manner. Interactives have been shown to significantly advance the quality and effectiveness of learning environments for students². This interactive tool will depict the twisting and folding of the heart’s outflow tract development, in addition users will be able to rotate the object in a 3-dimensional interface. Modes and tools in the application will allow students to explore the heart’s outflow tract through various cross sections and control the animation of the heart developing. Testing before and after use of the 3D interactive tool, will evaluate medical student’s knowledge on heart development and visual spatial relationships. Results of this project will provide evidence on the effectiveness of three-dimensional interactive visual learning tools for the education of medical students.


Ashley Ulm

Visualizing the attachments and internal architecture of the masseter muscle in Cavia porcellus using contrast enhanced micro-CT

Contrast enhanced micro-Computed Tomography (CE micro-CT) renders the anatomy of soft tissues in detail that has, heretofore, been unavailable through standard micro-CT. The CE micro-CT scans provide a level of contrast in soft tissues that often permits visualization of individual muscle fascicles. Although exquisite details of the internal architecture of muscles can be seen in published slices from CE micro-CTs, published 3D reconstructions of muscles do not depict those details. The purpose of this project is to utilize CE micro-CT to segment out the masseter muscles of a specimen of Cavia porcellus, the guinea pig, and visualize the details of the internal architecture of those muscles. The head of an adult guinea pig was soaked in a solution of called iodine potassium iodide (I2KI) for several weeks and then scanned at Northeast Ohio College of Medicine using the Scanco vivaCT micro-CT. The Materialize Mimics® Innovation Suite will be used to capture this detail in 3D and allow full reconstruction and exploration of the muscle fiber internal micro-architecture. This data will be put into a 3D PDF to facilitate further research into the attachments, internal structure, and biomechanical function of the masseter and its parts. We hope to develop standardized methods for visualization of muscle architecture that will facilitate future analyses of CE micro-CT datasets.




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