2012 Finalist: Innovation In Information And Communications Technology Sponsored By TELUS
3-D Virtual Human Body Game Changer In Medical Education
The LINDSAY Virtual Human (“LINDSAY”) project, led by Dr. Christian Jacob, is a cornerstone for delivering an integrated learning environment to introduce virtual anatomy and physiology into the university curriculum and to people everywhere.
Building a Virtual Human
Dr. Jacob, who works at the University of Calgary in faculties of Science and Medicine, assembled a multi-disciplinary team of programmers, technologists, researchers and educators. They built a 3-dimensional virtual male and female human that replicates anatomy and physiology, which will be useful for training, and research.
“We have built a tool that makes the human body more accessible to everybody, not just medical students,” Dr. Jacob says. “People will get a better sense of how marvellous the human body is. To do that, it’s important that things are beautiful and that the interactive computer models can be personalized.”
Power of Aesthetics
Beauty is paramount for Dr. Jacob. He refers often to Apple’s now-deceased CEO, Steve Jobs, whose computers inspired him to pursue the field of informatics.
“Jobs wanted his computers to be beautiful, elegant, visual and interactive,” Dr. Jacob says. “That’s what we do — make the invisible, visible; the complex comprehensible; and visualize complexity in a computer.”
With LINDSAY, Dr. Jacob has achieved the rare aesthetic and scientific balance he was looking for. The team combined state-of-the-art information technology with medical expertise to create integrated sophisticated software for graphics, physics simulations, and interactivity with the sciences of anatomy and physiology.
“What fascinates me is to work in interdisciplinary fields. Informatics is exciting because I can do computer science plus any other science,” Dr. Jacob explains. “And working with physiology and the Faculty of Medicine is even more fascinating because we can make an almost immediate impact on the university’s medical curriculum.”
Since its inception in 2009, the LINDSAY project has created three software packages in an “eLearning Ecosystem for Medical Education”. An anatomy browser, LINDSAY Atlas, will be available from Apple’s App Store in 2012.
Innovating Medical Education
Dr. Jacob and his team have already produced software applications for mobile touch devices, touch tables, web browsers and desktop computers, through which content is shareable and delivered through a repository for physiology simulations, interactive documents, and other material.
Because of its design and customized information technology, LINDSAY will innovate medical education in Calgary, across Canada and potentially the rest of the world.
Alberta benefits specifically, by being able to better train doctors and by having Albertans better informed about their health. In addition the province will attract worldwide attention for its innovative medical education. And when LINDSAY is commercialized sometime in the near future, The Lindsay Project Corp. will be able to offer employment to inter-disciplinary specialists and grad school students.