Role of Medical Illustration Expands in the SOM

January 2014

The August 2011 hire of Michael Konomos, MS, CMI, as a medical illustrator for the Department of Surgery was the first appointment since the 1990s of a certified medical illustrator to an academic clinical department of the Emory School of Medicine. Michael went on to apply his experience in 3D animation, realistic 3D modeling and texturing, digital illustration, surgical anatomy, and visual medical education to a variety of electronic materials, including the patient education app "Come Clean: Stop Surgical Infections Before They Start" for Emory's Wound Infection Group (WIG), and the decision-making "iChoose Kidney" tool for patients regarding kidney failure treatment options, an app developed by a group led by Emory transplant and epidemiology researcher Dr. Rachel Patzer.

With the support of School of Medicine Dean Dr. Christian Larsen, Michael recently moved to the SOM to lend his expertise to other educational initiatives within the school, one of which will be managing the newly formed Visual Medical Education team (VME). "I think Dean Larsen and I share a vision for how a medical illustrator can teach medicine in the 21st century. We have exciting new tools like mobile apps, 3D animation, and ebooks at our disposal that allow us to reach a worldwide audience quickly," says Michael. "But at the end of the day, we are still focused on effective education. That is something that hasn't changed. We want to deeply engage patients, residents, and other learners in the content because our goal is to change outcomes."

The VME team was organized to increase the ability to provide visual design components to the increasing surge of electronic education projects that are being initiated by Emory SOM faculty. In addition to Michael, the team includes recently hired medical illustrators Andy Matlock, MS, and Satyen Tripathi, MA, CMI.

Satyen has assumed Michael's former role in the Department of Surgery. He was previously employed at Artcraft Health Education, which creates communication materials for healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers. Satyen worked on such projects as the creation of a digital oncology resource for patients, brochures on diabetes education, and support visuals for a facial transplantation study. Since arriving at Emory, he is developing patient education materials for the Emory Transplant Center and surgical protocol packages for WIG.

Coming from the NIH's National Library of Medicine (NLM), Andy is now the medical illustrator for the Thalia and Michael Carlos and Alfred A. Davis Center for Surgical Anatomy and Technique (CSAT), which is led by Dr. Keith Delman, the Carlos Professor of Surgical Anatomy and Technique. At NLM, Andy was involved with art direction, video production, and video editing, and contributed to documentaries and website development. Prior to NLM, Andy was the first staff medical illustrator for the Atlanta-based WebMD. For CSAT, Andy is focusing on generating digital tools that will teach medical students, residents, and physicians about the critical role surgical anatomy plays in the operating room. His current projects include an iPad app based on pelvic anatomy, and a common surgical procedures app referred to as a video atlas that will feature step-by-step video presentations shot in the OR.

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