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UNCON 2020

November 28 - 29, 2020
10:00am - 2:00pm

Day 1 Speakers 

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Keynote Speaker

Dr. Kamran Khan

Transforming Data to Insights to Actions in a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that epidemic threats can appear without notice and spread incredibly fast. This means that to stay a step ahead, the world has to move smarter and faster. This presentation will describe a seven-year initiative to build a global epidemic intelligence system to rapidly transform diverse global data into powerful insights. However, to mitigate the health, economic and social impacts of an epidemic or pandemic, insights must be translated into timely actions to empower a wide array of public and private sector audiences.

Dr. Kamran Khan is a practicing infectious disease physician and a Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto. Motivated by his experiences as a frontline healthcare worker during the 2003 SARS outbreak, Dr. Khan has been studying outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases for more than a decade. To help translate scientific discovery into timely action, Dr. Khan founded BlueDot in 2013, a digital health company that uses big data, human and artificial intelligence, and information technologies to help governments, businesses, and hospitals build resilience to emerging global epidemic threats.

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Dr. Gaël McGill

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Dr. Jonathan Khao

Visualizing SARS CoV-2 Membrane Fusion: Challenges, Tools, Techniques & Revelations

Membrane-enveloped viruses like SARS CoV-2 infect cells by triggering a complex cascade of protein conformational changes resulting in membrane fusion and intracellular delivery of their genome. Visualizing the Spike protein, its multiple intermediate states and dynamic conformational changes during membrane fusion is a daunting challenge using existing molecular visualization tools and techniques. We will share our integrative modeling and coarse-grained simulation process for visualizing the Spike, how our Molecular Maya (mMaya) toolset is uniquely suited to this challenge, and address recent data about the now pervasive D614G mutation and its impact on the spread of the virus.

Dr. Gaël McGill is faculty and Director of Molecular Visualization at Harvard Medical School where his teaching and research focuses on visualization design. He is also the founder & CEO of Digizyme, Inc. a firm dedicated to the visualization and communication of science, creator of the Clarafi portal and Molecular Maya software, co-author and digital director for E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth textbook and served as a Vesalius Trust board member. After his B.A. in Biology, Music, and Art History from Swarthmore College, and Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School, he completed his postdoctoral work at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute studying apoptosis and melanoma.

Dr. Jonathan Khao is an animator and programmer at Digizyme. With a background in structural biology and molecular dynamics simulations, Jonathan develops tools to model and simulate molecular environments and is the lead developer of Molecular Maya.

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Shiz Aoki

Alternative Careers in Medical Illustration

As medical illustrators, we all share the same passion and enthusiasm for visual arts, science, and how those worlds combine to inspire and help change the world for the better. In high-growth industries like tech startups, numerous new career opportunities are opening up that enable medical illustrators to harness and apply their unique skills and passions. UX research and product design are well-known and promising alternative career paths. We’ll discuss a few other exciting roles including skills requirements, average salary ranges, and their outlook for career trajectories.

Shiz Aoki is the co-founder and CEO of BioRender, also known as the “Adobe for Science,” a software tool that empowers scientists to visually communicate their research. Prior to starting BioRender, she studied at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in medical illustration and was lead science illustrator at National Geographic for 8 years. Her passion lies in democratizing science communication via innovative tools to accelerate research and knowledge translation.

Panel: Perspectives on Medical Illustration Outside of Canada
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About Erina He

Before BMC, Erina went to UCSD for a degree in Neuroscience and Physiology and worked as a research associate in a biotech company for a few years. Her Masters Research Project was the molecular visualization decision tree; project goal was to investigate if molecular animations helped undergraduate students understand complex molecular concepts. Currently living and working in the states in the DC metropolitan area. She currently work as a medical illustrator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Erina He


About Pina Kingman

Pina Kingman specializes in 2D & 3D biomedical animation and loves everything to do with cellular and molecular biology. She is happiest when trying to emulate the way red blood cells squeeze through capillaries, and working with other such exciting animation topics. Prior to graduating from BMC in 2009, she completed a BSc in Cell Biology and Genetics with a minor in Fine Art at UBC in Vancouver, where she grew up. After BMC, she moved to Colorado and then Kentucky to work in 3D biomedical animation, and then serendipitously moved to Bergen, Norway where she is now self-employed. Every step of the way, even as remote as Scandinavia, there has been fellow BMCs willing to lend a helping hand, and she is forever grateful for their support and friendship.


Pina Kingman

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About Andrew Q. Tran

Andrew is a digital product designer, currently at Facebook Pay, working on challenges of financial equity, access, and creating healthy behavioral changes. With a unique blend of experiences in science, medicine, and design spanning over 15 years, Andrew has been building products and experiences for a wide range of stakeholders in digital health — with a core mission to help underserved populations. He has helped companies get into startup accelerators, launch minimum viable products, raise funding, and secure business deals. Andrew also moonlights as a medical illustrator with his training from BMC. Earlier in his career, he was a biotech and pharma researcher after his undergrad at UCLA.


Andrew Q. Tran

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Ryan Kissinger

About Ryan Kissinger

Ryan Kissinger is a Medical Illustrator and Animator born in North Vancouver British Columbia.  His education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of British Columbia (2006), and a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Communications from the University of Toronto (2010). Currently Ryan works for the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at Rocky Mountain Laboratories situated in Montana's scenic Bitterroot valley. His work has appeared in numerous publications and media outlets including Science, Nature, NPR, CNN and the New York Times and is currently on the display in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  Before joining NIH, Ryan created animations for surgical residents studying endoscopic endonasal surgical approaches to pituitary tumors and educational materials for surgical patients. In July of 2019 he was given an award of merit for didactic illustration by the Association of Medical Illustrators for his collaboration with Eric Calvo of the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research at NIAID. At present Ryan is working on a number of projects including a comprehensive animation of the mechanism of action of the fusion protein of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

Day 2 Speakers 

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Keynote Speaker

Dr. Jeroen Claus

Switching to Houdini - Don't Worry, It's Not That Scary

Animators are often terrified of Houdini: It looks different. Nodes. Coding. Spreadsheets. It's only for big studios doing movies with lots of explosions, right? That's what I thought for years while plugging away with Maya. It turns out, not only is Houdini much easier to learn than you think, it's the perfect program for scientific animators. In this talk, I'll show you why it's time to cancel that Maya subscription and get procedural.

Dr. Jeroen Claus runs Phospho, a London-based biomedical animation studio. Originally a scientist, he realized he was better with keyframes than pipette tips. In 2014 he started Phospho to make other people's experiments look pretty and hasn't looked back since.

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Andrea Kim

Medical AR/VR Applications: Evaluation Challenges and Research at FDA

Advancements in augmented and virtual reality head-mounted displays (HMDs) have prompted the development of many use cases in medicine, and current extended reality (XR) applications actively being investigated include medical training, therapy, pain management, and visualization of medical datasets for diagnostics and surgical applications. While the growing enthusiasm for medical XR development open new possibilities for innovative applications in healthcare, they also introduce questions concerning technological performance and clinical evaluation challenges within a medical environment. This talk will discuss hardware and software limitations of the display technology and development platforms currently explored for medical XR applications from a regulatory perspective. DISCLAIMER: Due to FDA Legal Review restrictions, content will be the same as from AMI with voiceover tailored to UNCON 2020.

Andrea Kim is a Staff Fellow at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a focus on Medical Extended Reality (MXR) regulatory research. She earned an M.S. degree in Biomedical Visualization from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018, and her B.A. degree in Psychology from Northwestern University. Andrea is the recipient of the 2019 Best in Show Award at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) for her Virtual Reality Anatomy training simulation. Her current research interests at the FDA include the development and design of benchmark testing and performance characterization of MXR devices and applications.

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Paul Kelly

Time Management for Medical Illustrators

Time is the great equalizer. Every day, each human wakes up with the same number of seconds in the day, to be spent at their discretion. Making the most of those fleeting moments is of paramount importance for all, but this strange phenomena we call time takes on a unique character for the creative professional, through whose work time can seem to bend and stretch in synchrony with one’s mental, and emotional states. In this presentation, Paul will share time management tools and explore how shifting perspective can transform restraint into freedom, and uncover hidden troves of opportunity.

Paul graduated from BMC in 2011, has worked as a Senior Biomedical Communications specialist at the Toronto Video Atlas of Surgery (TVASurg) for 8 years, and has been a Certified Medical Illustrator (CMI) since 2015. As a medical illustrator in a small team, Paul’s professional duties range across the 3D production pipeline, photography and videography, graphic design, and project management. Beginning with the production of his Master’s Research Project (MRP), Paul has pursued the habit of time tracking his production hours on most projects he has worked on, both professionally and in personal activities. 

Panel: Perspective on Freelancing as a Medical Illustrator
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About Qingyang Chen

Qingyang Chen is the founder of QCVisuals, a biomedical illustration studio established in 2013. She is an award-winning medical illustrator and designer with over 7 years of professional experience. Her company is built on a foundation of exceptional client service and a commitment to the highest standards of accuracy and effective design.  Qingyang is sought out by clients world-wide, and has successfully completed over 250 projects in data visualization, advertising, patient education, research publication, graphic and brand design, and animation and video editing.


Qingyang Chen

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About Sarah Crawley

Sarah Crawley is an illustrator and animator who is curious about all the ways we can visualize and understand our world. She graduated from the MScBMC program in 2018, and holds a previous degree in History and Art History. She is currently freelancing, and works primarily in developing visuals for research publications and patient education. Sarah’s passion for animation often leads her to explore different techniques, and she is eager to continue playing with style throughout her work.


Sarah Crawley

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About Avesta Rastan

Avesta Rastan is a freelance scientific animator and illustrator from Vancouver, currently based in Toronto. After graduating from the BMC program, she worked as a Creative Innovation Associate at INVIVO Communications. Her freelance career got started shortly after publishing her COVID-19 infographic that was shared by the World Economic Forum and published in Discover Magazine. Her other works have been published in high-impact journals including Nature, Cell, and JAMA. She works primarily with researchers in academia, medtech start-ups, and various agencies


Avesta Rastan


About Judy Rubin

Judy Rubin is a highly prolific, client-facing medical illustrator with strong project management experience across a portfolio of projects. She’s an award winning creator of media and materials for scientific publication, marketing & advertising, sales training, physician education, and legal and forensic use. Her clients include pharma, medical device, law firms, hospitals, academic researchers and universities.


Judy Rubin

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