Read Joy’s paper via THIS LINK


What first interested you in medical visualisation?

My first exposure to medical visualisation happened during my fourth year of undergrad. An immunology professor showed an animation on antibodies created by a graduate of the Masters of Biomedical Communication program. I was amazed at how such complex concepts could be simplified and explained so elegantly with illustration and animation. I loved the idea and challenge of helping people understand scientific and medical concepts with aesthetically pleasing visuals.

Tell us a bit about your background and education.

I have always loved art and design and I took a variety of drawing and painting classes in high school – both curricular and extracurricular. However, I loved learning about science at the same time.

Not knowing that there was a program that could combine both of these passions, I enrolled in an undergraduate degree in Immunology at University of Toronto. While working on a fourth year research-based thesis project, I came to the realization that even though I loved learning about scientific topics, I did not enjoy the day-to-day lab work. I did discover that some of the highlights of this fourth year project was making powerpoint presentations and illustrations for posters and seminars.

Thankfully, it was during that fourth year research project that I learned about the Masters program in Biomedical Communications (BMC). I worked enthusiastically on a portfolio, applied to the program, and was accepted. The BMC Masters program is a two-year course based masters where you learn the essential skills (technical, research, and communication) to become a professional biomedical communicator. I loved animation and working with 3D programs so I worked on an animation describing the role of macrophages in autoimmune disease for my Master’s thesis project.

As a Senior Biomedical Communication Specialist, what does your job entail?

I am a senior biomedical communication specialist at Toronto General Hospital. I work with two other talented biomedical communicators. Together with surgeons we produce 3D-enhanced surgical education videos for the Toronto Video Atlas of Surgery (TVASurg), which is a free online video library for surgical trainees and fellows. My job entails all of the pre-production, production, and post-production steps of making a video – including video editing, animation, compositing. When our surgeons feel there is a procedure that is essential for the atlas, we will film the procedure directly in the operating room. I also help keep our online video atlas website updated and maintain our social media presence.

What tools or software do you use in your work?


Can you briefly tell me about the project “Visualising a rare and complex case of advanced hilar cholangiocarcinoma“?

The video “Extended left hepatectomy with the complex portal vein reconstruction and in situ cold perfusion of the liver” was one of the monthly video releases for our online video library – The Toronto Video Atlas of Surgery. TVASurg is a free online library of 3D animation-enhanced surgical videos, designed to instruct surgical fellows in hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) and transplant procedures. This library started in 2002 and new content is added on a monthly basis. Our paper, “Visualizing a rare and complex case of advanced hilar cholangiocarcinoma,” describes the visualization of these complex structures supplemented with the development process for this instructional video. Due to the rarity of Klatskin tumours, I decided that sharing the methods and visualization solutions for this procedure would be insightful and interesting.

Did you need to learn any new skills during the project?

From producing numerous educational surgical videos, we have perfected and streamlined our production workflow. However every case presents a unique visualization challenge. For this video, the challenge was to visualize the Klatskin tumour together with all of the surrounding anatomies with accuracy and clarity. Visual references were rare for this type of tumour. Furthermore, Klatskin tumours are mostly intrahepatic so surgical footage was not sufficient as a visual reference either. The final visualization was achieved with a combination of verbal descriptions by surgeons, textbook descriptions, specimen photographs, artistic conventions, and artistic licensing, all whilst adhering to surgical accuracy.

What was most rewarding about the project?

Regular emails from surgical fellows and trainees across the world telling us how helpful and valuable our videos are for their training is incredibly rewarding. Some surgeons and fellows have also mentioned how our videos have helped directly with preparations for complex, related surgery.

What are you working on right now?

My coworkers and I are constantly in the video production mindset. As I mentioned before, we add new content to the online atlas every month. Please visit to watch our videos and subscribe to our monthly email newsletter.

A few months ago, we released an animation short titled, “Until Then”, which pays tribute to the generosity of tissue and organ donors. This video style differs from our usual educational videos and is inspired by the opening sequence of one of our favourite shows – Westworld. The animation short and our production process can be found here:

In addition to animation and videos, our team lead has been working on developing virtual reality (VR) technology to surgical animation. If you have a HTC Vive please feel free to download and try out our award winning VR Surgical Anatomy module yourself. You can download the module or view a live demo here:

Is there another project you would like the opportunity to undertake?

With the growing popularity of VR and augmented reality (AR), I’d like to test the waters combining this exciting technology with our ongoing projects. I’m particularly interested in enhancing user-interface design for VR/AR.

READ MORE about Joy and her team here:

Readers can visit to see our collection of surgical videos.

They can also sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter through our website.

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