The Visible Human Project, brainchild of the National Library of Medicine, has been in existence since the 80s. However, it is making a major difference in how we are visualizing medicine now.

The Visible Human Project was created to provide an accurate 3-D representation of the human body. Thanks to two volunteers, one male and the other female, NLM was able to take CT, MRI scans, and cross-sectional images of their bodies to aid in connecting the visual image of human anatomy to the already existing linguistic format.

Modern imaging techniques are an indispensable tool for visualizing human anatomy. The Biomedical Research Imaging Center at UNC-Chapel Hill utilizes these methods as well by providing image analysis; not only do they provide image post-processing services with the latest machines, they also provide services such as statistical analysis customized for individual research projects.

The applications of these images has led to breakthroughs in biomedical and health informatics research. Tools and applications such as Antaquest, and Insight ToolKit, have been developed to aid in treatment, diagnosis, and virtual surgeries that provide realistic tactile feedback. Using these multi-dimensional models, mistakes in human anatomy textbooks have been corrected as well.

Dr. David Gotz, Associate Professor in the School of Information Library Science and Assistant Director for the Carolina Health Informatics Program leads the Visual Analysis and Communications Lab at UNC. However, instead of visualizing the human body, this lab visualizes high-level data. The applications of this research are to help improve data interpretation by detecting and reducing selection bias.

The way we visualize data is changing thanks to projects like the Visible Human Project and the VAClab at UNC; students have access to a more experiential type of learning and are able to utilize and visualize data in more innovative ways than ever before.