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  • Writer's picturePaul Kelly

Medical Illustration Podcast Summer 2023 announcements

Updated: May 31

Medical Illustration Podcast

Summer 2023 announcements


Welcome back to the Medical Illustration Podcast! This is your host, Paul Kelly and I’m so excited about all that’s been happening recently I just felt the need to get back on the mic and share some news.

Since you last heard from me I have become a father, it’s been hectic but awesome. I’ve learned quite a bit about pregnancy, labour and delivery, and early childhood development. I’ve been reading about all this stuff and gaining hands-on experience. It’s been great. I’m definitely going to be bringing on some experts soon to touch on these topics in more depth.

For this episode of the podcast I’m going to talk about some news happening in the field of medical illustration. I want to touch on the upcoming AMI conference and other organizations, and also talk about the pillars of our field so I’ll touch on some news in art, science, business and technology.

AMI 2023 conference

  1. Registration is still open for the 77th Annual AMI Conference in Henderson, Nevada, July 19-22 at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort!

  2. Program overview

    1. The keynote speaker at this year’s conference is none other than Temple Grandin who is a person I’ve known about and admired for quite some time actually so I’m super bummed I’ll be missing out but I’m going to take this opportunity to share a little bit of her story. I first learned about Dr Grandin in the book Mastery by Robert Green. Here’s a summary of the short biography he wrote:

      1. Struggling with language development, Temple was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. She benefited from speech therapy but as a visual thinker, still faced many challenges in a school system that was geared heavily towards verbal learning, and was bullied and teased. She found refuge in working with her hands and developing kinship with animals. She showed early aptitude in both of these areas and became an expert in horseback riding and cattle. This is where it gets interesting, when she was visiting her Aunt who had a cattle ranch in Arizona, she became obsessed with this device they use to calm down cattle when they had to give them shots, it’s called a squeeze chute and she even asked to be put into it herself and found that she loved the sensation. From this experience she became obsessed with researching the beneficial effects of touch on young children with autism and now, driven as she was, she found herself with a superhuman ability to focus and read for long periods of time. She dove into science books and taught herself enough to be admitted to Arizona State University to pursue a Master’s in Animal Sciences. If you want to learn more about her story I believe she’s also given a TED talk. I’ll be sure to link that with the show notes.

      2. Dr. Grandin’s lecture will highlight her landmark work, revealed in her most recent book “Visual Thinking,” that celebrates and advocates for the special minds and contributions of visual thinkers. Grandin proposes new approaches to educating, parenting, employing, and collaborating with visual thinkers.

    2. Another speaker of note on this year’s program is Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Packing for Mars, and other great books. From the AMI program: “As a popular science expert, she draws audiences into the hilarious anecdotes, mind-blowing facts, and unknown realities of the relationship between humans and space, wildlife, death and more.”

    3. Bob Morreale from Mayo clinic will give a talk on The Growing Value of Extended Reality (XR) and Simulation-Based Learning in Healthcare and Medical Education

    4. Christian Hanson will present “3D Printing for Realistic Anatomical Models” He will discuss the techniques to produce high-end digital sculpts as well as the factors he considers to maintain anatomical accuracy, minimize complexity, and maximize realism

    5. Katie Allen will present “Quality vs. Quantity: Delivering Your Best Work in a High-Volume Environment”

    6. Annie Gough is presenting a med legal case regarding a skin tag removal that turned into an internal hemorrhoid stapling. She will also show the final trial exhibit slide deck and discuss a unique and successful collaboration

    7. BMC professors Marc Dryer and Nick Woolridge will present on forensic facial reconstruction. This is work I know Marc has been involved with for many years, so it will be cool to see him give an update on this.

    8. Tech showcase to feature “3D animation pipeline efficiency” with Michael Hickman of Barrow Neurological Institute, writing custom scripts for Photoshop and Illustrator, from the woman who schooled me on Photoshop, professor Carol Hrejsa from the UIC program, and animated GIFs with Levent Efe, using Figma for scientific visualization with Amy Zhang and Shay Saharan (recently became a professor at BMC), molecular Maya updates with Gael McGill and Jonathan Khao, and a Photoshop open mic session with Sarah Faris.

  3. Salon updates

    1. The AMI Salon is the annual exhibition of medical art created and produced by members of the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) displayed at the site of the Annual Conference. It is an impressive showcase for the most recent achievements in medical visualization.

    2. Social Impact award. A new, optional cross-category award has been created for entries that address societal injustices and challenges not limited to race, age, body type, and disability. Entrants may choose to be considered for this award and provide a Social Impact Statement up to 1,000 characters. This is separate from the Intended Purpose Statement which is required.

    3. Medical-Legal categories have been expanded to better reflect the types of work in that area. We now have distinctions for plaintiff vs defense, and both personal injury or medical malpractice categories.

    4. Fine Arts award. Meant to showcase members' work, no awards will be given in this category.

  4. Brandon Pletsch, former president of Radius Digital Science before it was acquired by Real Chemistry, and Cameron Slayden, CEO at Microverse Studios have been promoting a “Terrible Medical Illustration” art competition. So if you have any horrible medical illustrations that you are not at all proud of, now there’s a place for them. Haha. Submission deadline is July 13th and awards will be distributed on July 20th in Henderson Nevada at the AMI conference. For more info shoot an email to

Recent AMI news

  1. AMI Biomedical 3D Animation Zoom Get Together

    1. Hosted by Michael Hickman

    2. Discussion focused on 3D workflows, project management and scheduling, software and hardware, art style, and we all shared some ideas about what we’d like to see our tools do.

    3. Saw several folks there, of note Eddy Xuan from AXS studio

  2. Conference sponsors

    1. Artery, AXS, Barrow, Maxon, Microverse, RedNucleus and Vessel Studios

  3. Jill Gregory updates

    1. Happy Birthday!

    2. AAA (American Association for Anatomy) conference in March in Washington DC. Next year’s conference will be held in Toronto, with a focus on visualization.

    3. Jill has been involved with several outreach projects including

      1. the Masters students at the University of Dundee in Scotland,

      2. IMI

      3. Biomedical Visualization and Communication certificate program at the University of British Columbia

      4. the Science and Art student group at RIT

      5. undergraduate art majors at St. Olaf College, Minnesota;

      6. and to an undergraduate pre-medical illustration course at Brown University, Rhode Island

Opportunities in the field

  1. At the last meeting we had a talk by Melissa Carroll, PhD, founder of Black in Anatomy. Dr. Carroll has been working for several years to launch a new project called POP-AART (Portfolios of People- Advancing Anatomical Representation Together). They are just launching their first call for illustrations for the project, which is funded by the American Association for Anatomy (AAA) to diversify the pool of medical illustrations available to anatomy educators. It will be an online repository of diverse illustrations for educators to use in formal educational settings. Participating illustrators can be paid for both pre-existing illustrations and for newly commissioned works based on reference photography provided by the project. The deadline for the first application is July 10, 2023. For more information, you can email them at

  2. Interestingly enough, the AMI also announced today another similar initiative, this one funded by Johnson and Johnson: the AMI Diversity Fellowship program for members and non-members of the AMI to take part in. Made possible by a grant through Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Our Race to Health Equity (ORTHE) initiative, the AMI Diversity Fellowship will seed the creation of a new digital library to expand the depiction of racial and ethnic diversity in medical illustrations. You can learn more about this fellowship and apply by visiting the AMI dot org website and going to the Professional Resources tab. So yet another opportunity to contribute to a positive social cause in the world of medical and scientific illustration and get paid doing so. That’s awesome!

  3. SciAm internship - Scientific American is looking for a Graphics intern, this position pays $20 per hour and is full time—up to 35 hours—for 3-4 months during fall 2023. This position is located in our New York office on a hybrid working model. Applicants must have command over the basics of reporting and visualization and a strong interest in science, health, environment and/or technology topics. An undergraduate degree in a science discipline is preferred but not required. I’ll provide a link in the show notes or you can search “internship at Scientific American” and you should find it–apply by July 10th with your cover letter, resume and a portfolio link. They say they will weigh the cover letter heavily, and I’ll add my 2 cents here, I have to wonder if that means they’re going to judge it based on whether they think ChatGPT wrote it or if you actually wrote it yourself. I don’t know for sure if that’s what they meant, but maybe.

  4. BCA BioImages: image portal opens July 23rd. The BIOCOMM 2023 was held on May 16-19 at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The BioCommunications Association has been traditionally more focused on medical and scientific photography but they also display illustrations in their BioImages competition and so hey if you’ve got some strong work and you want to start collecting accolades to promote yourself this is a great opportunity to do so.

  5. Institute of Medical Illustrators: conference in November 10-11. Open for presentation submissions through June 30th. I’m not sure if this is going to be a virtual conference or a hybrid model but I suspect it might be, so again if you’re looking to pad your CV I’d say give it a look and see if you’d like to join them. I did a presentation with the IMI last year, I think it was, and it was a lot of fun! Great group of folks.

Fine Art

Watts Atelier - I recently completed about four months worth of the Watts drawing program—this is an online fine arts program with hundreds of hours of video tutorials on life drawing and painting using traditional media. The drawing program is very geared to prepare students to become painters. Jeff Watts, the founder, is very much a passionate oil painter but you can tell he loves classical drawing as well. He’s a charismatic and highly skilled artist. He’s got a great YouTube channel as well if you’re curious to know more about him. I was recommended by a fellow BMC alum to check this out and I have been at this every day since the beginning of 2023. I definitely think if I had known about this before I enrolled in BMC I would have signed up and gotten deeper into it. It’s a methodical approach to figure drawing that gives you consistently high quality results, and teaches you a reliable strategy for drawing the human body and face and the more you become familiar with the system, you will increase your drawing speed and accuracy and I can attest to that.

Science & Communications

Over the past year or so I’ve heard news of new teaching appointments in the medical illustration training programs here in North America. Camron Slayden and Amami Elizabeth Antia-Obong have joined the faculty at the UIC program in Chicago, and New profs at BMC: Shay, Peter Leynes, Stephan Mader, & Nancy Ji.

Congratulations to all of them for starting their new journey into teaching and congratulations to all their future students who will undoubtedly benefit from their tutelage. I’m familiar with the work and careers of each of these people and I can personally confirm their qualifications as being top notch, prolific medical illustration professionals. I’m sure I missed some folks here but I wanted to give these shout outs anyway just to get started on trying to make this a regular feature of the podcast. There’s so many interesting people in our field it’s hard to narrow down anyone for MVP status but the professors who teach medical and scientific visualization in all of the various undergrad and graduate programs are a good place to start. You have to be fairly familiar with the field to teach so I want to start getting in the habit of making these shout outs.

Current Pat Ed project

  • IPDAS or International Patient Decision Aid Standards. Their site is a bit old, but I found a link to their original 74-item list of standards that was compiled about 20 years ago and has since been refined. The most recent version has been edited down to just 47 items. They also changed from a binary (has/doesn't have) rating system to a sliding scale measure.

    • Describes the health condition and treatment options, including the benefits and risks of each option.

    • Provides information to support the communication between patients and healthcare providers.

    • Visual aids

    • Plain language

    • Provides information about the experiences of others who have faced similar decisions.

  • Michael Konomos from Emory University was nice enough to share:

  • Richard Mayer’s seminal book Multimedia Learning details his extensive research on how to structure multimedia materials effectively to maximize learning. It's actually evidence-based universal principles for effective communication, not patient-education specific, but absolutely applies.

  • Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) is a systematic method to evaluate and compare the understandability and actionability of patient education materials

  • Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM) instrument offers a systematic method to objectively assess the suitability of health information materials for a particular audience in a short time.

  • Health Literacy Online also has some good advice.

So these are some of the resources I’ve been digging into and utilizing for my current project. If you have any recommendations for tools to evaluate and design effective patient education materials please share that in the comments to this episode.

UHN 3k Lung Transplants

I want to share a milestone that was achieved here in Toronto recently, specifically the Ajmera Transplant program at Toronto General Hospital recently announced they completed their 3,ooo lung transplant. That is incredible. And it really is up to individuals like me to announce this because these guys are too humble they don’t spread this news too far and wide. I think they don’t want to come off like they’re bragging or something, well if that’s the case, I will brag for them. That’s awesome man. This takes the contributions from so many people—the surgeons and OR staff of course, keep in mind that OR nurses are also specialized for transplant, it takes specific training, and also all the folks involved in transplant research. You need quite a number of lab workers involved and these people are situated physically right alongside surgeons. When we go in for filming surgeries we pass by the dedicated OR that has the ex vivo lung perfusion set up. They have ex vivo liver and ex vivo kidney perfusion systems as well. So it's really amazing to be at an institution such as UHN where I get exposed to this stuff. A big congratulations to everyone involved in reaching this milestone.


Reddit API

For those of you who have been listening to this podcast in the past you may know of my involvement and affinity for the website Reddit. There’s been quite a buzz lately, well, negative backlash would probably be a more fitting term here, in regards to a recent policy change the administration of Reedit has made regarding their API. Now I don’t fully understand this stuff to be honest but my understanding is that an API or Application Programming Interface is like a coding package that allows someone to redesign a website or plug it into a new format. Reddit has historically made their API freely available so that 3rd party developers can make mobile app versions of the site, such as Apollo, which is what I use. But recently Reddit announced they will start charging developers to have access to the API meaning most if not all of these apps will no longer be available because it seems that none of them are going to be able to cover these fees. So there’s been a wide-spread protest across the Reddit platform including many subReddits even going dark. Some moderators have even permanently shut down their subreddits. This is definitely a bummer. As one of the mods for the medical illustration subReddit I’ve been trying to read up on the changes and gauge the impact it’s going to have but to be honest I haven’t had the time to formulate an educated response or strategy moving forward just yet. I will be sure to keep you, my podcast listeners up to date with any decisions made and if you have an opinion you’d like me to know on the matter please feel free to reach out.

Journal walk-out

  • One of the things that really bums me out about the Reddit situation, is that up until now it’s been a great source of news like this–

  • A month ago there was a news headline about how the Entire board of an academic journal resigned over the actions of their academic publisher, whose profit margins outstrip even Google and Amazon. I’ll provide a link to this news story from The Guardian. It’s interesting to read about and a tricky situation for sure. I’m definitely going to have to find a guest to come on and talk about the current landscape of academic publishing because this is integral to the field of medical illustration. If you are or you know someone who is particularly qualified to talk about the history and status quo of academic publishing and how it impacts the work of medical and scientific illustrators, please do reach out.

So that’s going to be it for this episode, I know I’ve said this for like the last 3 solo episodes in a row but I have several interviews recorded and I’m wading through the edits. I apologize for the wait but believe me when I say these will be worth it. You guys are really going to enjoy the next few interview episodes coming out. In the meantime let me know if you’d like to hear more of these “current events” style episodes. You can leave a comment wherever you heard this podcast or shoot me a message on social media or an email, I’m not hard to find. Until next time, stay safe out there folks, keep at your craft, and hope you’re having a great summer! Peace out!!

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