CCTV Human Service News and Information TV Program/Blog Alert/Update: Lesley University's College of Art and Design students produced this 3D "medical visualization" for Boston Children's Hospital.

CCTV Human Service News and Information TV Program/Blog Alert/Update: Lesley University's College of Art and Design students produced this 3D "medical visualization" for Boston Children's Hospital.

This video by Professor Curvin Huber's Animation and VFX students illustrates gene editing (therapy).

  • Posted on: 7 April 2022
  • By: HRASHID

This video by Professor Curvin Huber's Animation and VFX students illustrates gene editing. College of Art and Design students produced this 3D "medical visualization" for Boston Children's Hospital.
If you’ve attended a blockbuster movie in recent years, or simply watched TV, you’re already at least vaguely aware of VFX, the computer-assisted animations and visual effects ubiquitous in popular entertainment.

But artists can also marshal VFX techniques and knowledge in the medical field, helping researchers and healthcare professionals explain advanced biotech concepts to patients and the public. Curvin Huber, professor of Animation and VFX in our College of Art and Design, and students Christian Calderon, Andrea Flores, Nick Johnson and Victoria Marin have done just that, creating genetic-therapy-related 3D animation videos for Boston Children’s Hospital.

“There really aren’t many medical visualizations out there,” Huber says. “They were quite a project for us.”

A headshot of Curvin Huber
Professor Curvin Huber has extensive experience in media and manufacturing but, like his students, only recently produced his first "medical visualization" 3D animation.
Lesley previously worked with the hospital on two-dimensional animations, but Huber’s students were brought in to tackle the challenges of conveying information about the precision technology of gene editing and showing it in three dimensions.

Though Huber had worked on movies, manufacturing and animated models to help design electric vehicles, this was his first time working on a medical visualization. The whole production time was about six months, but it took a while for the students and the hospital professionals to get on the same page.

“We really boiled it down,” Huber says of the advanced medical information. The doctors and researchers may be able to decode human genes, but Huber and his students had to decode the experts.

“We came up with a script, and then they’d re-edit the script,” says Huber. Eventually, they had a jargon-free final draft.

“Reeling in the content” took an estimated 60 hours of Zoom meetings with the hospital contacts. Then the students spent more than 300 hours on the animation itself, time that eventually resulted in a video of less than two minutes in length.

“Somebody will come to us and say ‘I want to do a two-minute video.’ That could take 200 hours,” Huber says, adding he knew his class was capable of turning heady medical jargon into an engaging, easy-to-understand video.

“The team of students we had, they were wonderful,” Huber says, adding that they worked diligently and quickly on the complicated gene-editing animation.

Johnson agrees that he and his fellow students had a tough task ahead of them.

“The project tested me on my knowledge in Autodesk Maya (production software),” says Johnson, describing one of the challenges. “I had no prior experience doing medical visualization and had to spend time finding a more scientific approach to the artwork.

“I researched and learned the Arnold Materials package (software) to create a material that made the 3D objects look like they are under a microscope.”

Then, the class had to bring the visualization to life.

“It needs to unwrap and unzipper,” Huber says of the video, which shows CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology weaving its way through strands, or helices, of DNA. The CRISPR-associated Cas9 protein “works as a pair of molecular scissors to cut DNA,” the video explains.

CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is a technology that involves finding and altering a specific bit of DNA inside a cell. The hope is that CRISPR be a means of curing genetic disorders and disease, including cancer.

"I spent the majority of my time developing a strategy to make a DNA model that can twist, split and break in half," Johnson explains. "This involved many iterations of Mash (a tool for making repeating patterns of objects) and making a rig that allowed an animator to move the DNA in any way they desire. Ultimately the project helped me improve my 3D modelling and rigging skills, and proved to be a staple in my online portfolio."

While the students benefited from the assignment with Boston's Children's Hospital, the engagment also exemplified the power of partnerships to round out the education experience.

Associate Professor Catriona Baker, chair of the Animation and VFX department, credited partnerships with rounding out the students’ Lesley experience.

“It is these New England-based companies and business partnerships that help foster such strong internships for the Animation + VFX department which allow our students to graduate with strong portfolios and professional work on their resumes,” she said.

SOURCE: Lesley University/ Boston Children Hospital: Gene editing is a precise technology used to add, remove or alter specific DNA sections. It involves making cuts to DNA at the specific spot where it is malfunctioning. By disrupting unwanted sequence elements or by copying and pasting in new sequences to fix faulty sequences, gene editing can lead to permanent genetic changes. Cells can function normally and reverse disease processes. (This video was created in collaboration with students and instructors from the College of Art and Design at Lesley University.) To learn more about gene editing please visit: https://www.childrenshospital.org/gen...

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▶Programs mentioned:

Gene Therapy Program
https://www.childrenshospital.org/gen...

#geneediting #genetherapy #Crispr #Cas9
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Yours In Peace
Hasson Rashid
Concerned Citizen/ Resident
Human Service News and Information TV Program/ CCTV Blog
Citizen Journalist
Cambridge, MA