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Melanoma Information

Dendritic Cell Information

American Association of Cancer Researchers 2001 Presentation


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Cell Systems Biology


Modeling & Simulation

Launched: Labscape

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Systems Support

CSI Collaborators

Biology In Motion

Developing animations of biological processes for education
David Hunt's Dendritic Cell on a black background
The theory behind the animation…
Models allow humans to visualize information and are "particularly valuable mental tools, because in simplifying the complexities of the real world, they enable us to concentrate our attention on those aspects of it that are of greatest interest or significance."1 They are especially important in the biological sciences for the comprehension of entities and events that are difficult to see, and because biology as a field is complex and wide ranging. Biological phenomena at the molecular level occur on scales, both temporal and spatial, that are difficult for the mind to comprehend. Direct observation is largely impossible, given existing technology, so we build mental models and visualizations, in much the same way that astronomers construct models of stellar events, the details of which can be observed only indirectly. CSI applies these principles to biology education through the development of rich multimedia visualizations and modeling tools.

What we've done so far…
In 2001 the CSI Education working group began development of animations and illustrations to explain the growth of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, and the use of dendritic cells to fight cancer. The group combined the talents of artists (3D animator David Hunt, graphic artist Delle Maxwell, UW lecturer in animation Barbara Mones-Hattal) and scientists (B. Robert Franza, CSI, Eric Butz and David Fitzpatrick of Immunex) to produce a highly innovative and engaging set of reusable visualizations. Dr. Thomas Curran, then head of the American Association for Cancer Research used the finished presentation in his keynote address at the AACR 92nd annual meeting.

To get an idea of the process, you can follow the artists' work from storyboards, to sketches, to animations.

1 Feurzeig, W.and N.Roberts.eds. Modeling and Simulation in Science and Mathematics Education. Springer-Verlag: New York, 1999.

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Department to Bioengineering University of Washington