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The Visible Human Project

The Visible Human Project: From Data to Knowledge

University of Colorado Center for Human Simulation at Fitzimmons

Visible Human Project Atlas of the Head and Neck

Principal Investigator Victor M. Spitzer, Ph.D.


The Visible Human Project Atlas of the Head and Neck, a contract awarded to the Center for Human Simulation at the University of Colorado, for the creation of six functional anatomy teaching modules accessible through a National Library of Medicine (NLM) Public Web Site, has had a title change. The contract title will be known as: The Visible Human Project ATLAS of Functional Human Anatomy, version 1.0 The Head and Neck.


Three Next Generation Internet contract awards, supported by the NLM, take the Visible Humans from the state of data to knowledge applications. For further information contact

University of Michigan.

Visible Human Project: Next Generation Internet Implementation to Serve Visible Human Datasets.

Principal Investigator: Brian Athey, Ph.D.


The University of Michigan (UM) Visible Human Project (VHP) team will develop a Next Generation Internet (NGI) production system to serve visible human datasets in novel and educationally useful ways. These include a comprehensive set of interactive 2D and 3D VH browers, featuring arbitrary 2D cutting and 3D visualizations. An interactive WWW navigation engine will be deployed to create and visualize anatomic flythroughs, under haptic control of the user, and also to deliver flythroughs developed by expert anatomists in concert with clinicians. Anatomical labels will enhance these visualization sequences, and enable real time links with appropriate resources on the WWW using XML. As such, the UM NGI HV system will complement and extend currently deployed passive WWW information systems with active computational services. This will allow for delivery of several simultaneous high quality digital streams, creating structured medical knowledge using the VH datasets. NGI test bed stakeholders include the UM Gross Anatomy Program, the UM Department of Surgery, a UM Nursing School statewide educational network, and the NASA Ames Research Center. An experienced evaluation team is in place to continually re-specify and focus the testbed deployments, and measure performance and educational effectiveness using emerging Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) principles. Networking experts are in place to provide NGI connectivity, and to evaluate successes and failures. Detailed plans for an NGI VH data server and software have been specified. These will be implemented and tested to create a stable and scalable production system for Phase III deployment in suitable 7x24 UM production facilities.


Stanford University Medical Media and Information Technologies (SUMMIT)

Visible Human Project: Remote, Real-time Simulation for Teaching Human Anatomy

Principal Investigator: Parvati Dev, Ph.D.


The ability for students of gross and surgical anatomy to use cross-sectional slices or 3D models constructed from digitized images has become a reality during the last decade. The raw digital data allow for an ideal application of computer-based learning of anatomy from three teaching innovations at SUMMIT and its collaborators; the immersive segmentation of structures (Senger), the immersive model building of organs (Temkin), and the interactive visualization of 'already built' 3D models (Heinrichs, et al.) Our goal for this work is to enhance visuo-spatial learning, allowing students to appreciate the proximity and features of adjacent structures. In the immersive environment, students visualize in 2D on a workbench, the projection of the Visible Human dataset. With tools created by Steve Senger, at NASA and the University of Wisconsin, students are able to construct 3D models by observing and following with a 'wand' the boundaries of 2D structures. Although time-consuming, this detailed 'build-up' of anatomic structures is the most rigorous type of learning, as it requires attention to adjacent structures during the selection of boundaries. This method of learning also requires more hardware and software resources than the types of model building discussed below. The greatest experience with this system has been with the Visible Human Project (VHP) Male. The second style of learning anatomy is that obtained by compiling 3D models from pre-segmented slices. In this more efficient method of building 3D models 'in-front-of-your eyes', Bharti Temkin and her computer-science students at Texas Tech University have used the VHP Male and a related set of digital slices/models (SVF-Stanford Visible Female) to enable construction of entire organs within a few minutes. This software operates on PC's, and adds the unique feature of being haptically enabled, so students are able to palpate the organs as they are being built. The limitation of this method is the substantial effort necessary to segment each slice. The third method of presentation of anatomic structures is with pre-constructed 3D models. This approach is the most time-efficient as the segmentation and model construction has been done before students access the models. As above, this method is based upon the very substantial effort of segmentation and model building. Because of the pre-processing, this set of 3D models permits the rapid and efficient viewing of many organs, and allows for integrating larger regions of anatomy with a 3D perspective. These three different approaches to teaching anatomy with the Visible Human slices will be developed and integrated into the "Anatomy Workbench" as part of Stanford's deliverables for its contract with NLM on the Next Generation Internet program.


University of Colorado Center for Human Simulation at Fitzimmons

Visible Human Project: Networked 3D Virtual Human Anatomy.

Principal Investigator Victor M. Spitzer, Ph.D.


The Center for Human Simulation at the University of Colorado is developing a Explorable Virtual Human (EVH), based on the Visible Human and future higher-resolution datasets. The EVH will utilize the power of the Next Generation Internet (NGI) to put virtual anatomic form and function into the hands of researchers, instructors and students. The authoring tools included in the EVH will empower anatomists and biomechanical engineers to develop interactive, anatomically based, environments. These environments will utilize graphic, haptic, and acoustic interfaces to give the look, feel, and sound of real functional anatomy. This project is sponsored by the National Library of Medicine. As part of this effort, we will evaluate EVH modules teaching the anatomy, function, and pathology of the knee at three separate levels of higher education, including the University of Colorado Medical School. In addition, we will demonstrate an extension of the EVH to include surgical simulation applied to arthroscopy of the knee joint.


Last Reviewed: April 22, 2019