Three-dimensional visualization of human anatomy is an effective way of describing appearances and spatial relationships within the human body. It is also a potentially powerful method of integrating and describing biomedical research data which can be related to anatomical entities. Toward this end, a computer-based dynamic scene generation system, named Biolucida, has been created which constructs interactive three-dimensional scenes of human anatomy. Biolucida allows the construction of scenes built from a collection of user-selected anatomical structures. The original driving concept behind its design is for use as an education and communication tool, conveying lessons, results, and other concepts via 3D animation. An exploratory goal of this system is to serve as the framework for the visualization of biomedical data which relates directly to the scene generator’s rendered structures. Mapping microarray expression data of various genes onto a physical map of human anatomy is one such application. Querying microarray gene expression data from human tissue samples should be able to yield an identity, expression level, and biological source (anatomical structure), if that data is archived according to appropriate standards. Using this data to help illustrate an anatomical scene may give users an appreciation for patterns not easily see without the help of such visualization.

Example Interactive VRML files generated with Biolucida, using the Foundational Model of Anatomy, and 3-D models generated by John Sundsten and David Conley. Best viewed with the Blaxuun Contact 5 VRML viewer. Note that the Blaxxun viewer currently doesn't work properly if a WRL file is in a directory with blanks in the names. A solution on a Windows machine is to right click on the links below and save in in a directory called something like C:\WRL. Then open with Blaxuun Contact.

Wayne Warren
Graduate Research Fellow, National Library of Medicine
Structural Informarics Group, Departments Biological Structure and   Biomedical and Health Informatics
School of Medicine
University of Washington