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November 27 - 28, 2021

Day 1 Speakers

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Dr Ciléin Kearns - Keynote Speaker

I am a medical illustrator passionate about visual communication, who explores health, disease, and care under the moniker 'artibiotics'. I draw from a background as a medical doctor, researcher, and from work in videogames development to share medicine in an accessible way. Currently I am working on an MD in clinical research studying the use of comics in healthcare. I serve as the Associate Editor of Medical Illustration and on RG-TEAM for RadioGraphics, and keep honing my craft with freelance and independent projects.

Talk: Sharing healthcare research with comics

When I was a teenager my baby brother was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. At this point me and my siblings had more science education than our parents, and had no medics in our family or social circles to turn to. In the years that followed, we became intimately familiar with challenge of navigating complex healthcare and research without a medical background. The crucible of these experiences sparked a passion for sharing medicine visually which has driven me ever since. I have been fortunate enough to explore the use of comics in medicine for almost a decade, and this is currently culminating in a body of research towards a Medical Doctorate with the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. In this talk I will share some of the things I've learned along this journey so far.

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Polly Zhang

I am a Product Manager at BioRender, also known as the “Adobe for Science,” a software tool that empowers scientists to visually communicate their research. At BioRender, I help build tools that make communicating science a delightful experience. I work closely with developers and product designers to deeply understand scientists’ needs and how BioRender can best solve their problems. I have a BSc in Biochemistry from Queen’s University.

Talk: The product life-cycle: From ideation to launch and beyond

At BioRender, product designers play a key role in ensuring we build products that scientists love and can’t live without. In this talk, Polly Zhang (Product Manager at BioRender) will discuss the product development process at BioRender, using real examples from recently released features. She’ll dive deep into the role of the product/interaction designer and how they work with developers and others in the company to create delightful user experiences.

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Mike Lovas

I'm a dad, husband, former competitive athlete of non-standard sports, and grew up on the east coast. I currently live and work-from-home in Leslieville. In my day job I am the Director of Design & Innovation at Smart Cancer Care, the innovation program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at UHN. I bring methods and influences from service design, biomedical engineering, and tech entrepreneurship to use a unique lens to view healthcare innovation. With my teams, we strive to create cancer care that is more human for everyone involved and that is evolving by design. I also mentor students and lecture, mostly at OCAD University’s Design for Health masters program and University of Toronto’s Masters of Health Informatics program... but open for others!

Talk: Fluid Service Innovation in Cancer Care

Cancer care in Ontario needs to be reconsidered to meet the increasing demand, stagnant resources, and an increasing expectation from patients for good service. The pandemic opened the door for new ways of thinking about care delivery; we now have a brief opportunity to help mould the next iteration of change, and hopefully build on the momentum towards more fluid, agile, and human-centred health service innovation. Smart Cancer Care is working to bring a new approach to how we create new services for cancer care at a large, traditionally slow, risk-averse, publicly funded hospital.

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Lora Appel

I’m an Assistant Professor of Health Informatics in the Faculty of Health at York University, a Collaborating Researcher at Michael Garron Hospital, and Senior Investigator at OpenLab, University Health Network. I lead “Prescribing Virtual Reality (VRx)” a collection of studies that introduce and evaluate AR/VR/MR interventions for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. I have published in premier journals like the American Journal of Medicine; have given talks at Harvard medical school, and my VR work has resulted in several national media appearances. I am passionate about designing new technological interventions that provide care in the pursuit of a cure. www.PrescribingVR.com

Talk: Designing Virtual Reality for our Growing Aging World

There has been a significant rise in studies using Virtual reality (VR) technology with older adults (specifically as valuable tools in dementia-related research, assessment, and care). Despite increasing demand from researchers, clinicians, caregivers, and patients, VR-manufacturers continue to leave behind this key demographic, designing hardware and software with entirely different priorities. The pandemic has taught us that seniors were the most isolated group, with low digital-literacy skills that gravely impacted their physical and mental health. Let’s talk about some research methods and design principles that can keep this growing stakeholder group engaged in the real world and our virtual future.

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Annie Tseng

I am currently a Biomedical Communications associate at Coactuate, where I work with industry-leading health and pharmaceutical companies to solve complex challenges and support their strategic planning. My work involves a co-creative process from the executive level to the patient-level, with cross-functional client teams and global medical experts. I am always facing new and wicked problems, and enjoy leveraging my sensemaking, creative problem-solving and visual storytelling skills to design solutions that address unmet needs, are implemented and achieve broad stakeholder buy-in.

Talk: Solving Wicked Problems - Strategy, Design & Storytelling

At the intersection of health, science and strategy, there exists ‘wicked strategy problems’ – problems that are unprecedented, complex, live in an ever changing environment, and involve multiple stakeholders with different priorities. There’s no right answer to solving a wicked strategy problem. At Coactuate, I lean into my design, creativity and communication chops to tackle problems I never even thought I would face. In this talk, I'd like to share some stories of wicked problems that our healthcare clients encounter and how we approach managing them together.

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Stuart Jantzen

I create educational animations for clients and to be freely available on YouTube. I use Houdini, Redshift, and Blackmagic Design tools to animate biology. Formerly I worked as a biomedical technical artist at AXS Studio, conducted molecular visualization research at UTM with Jodie Jenkinson and Gaël McGill, taught Maya at BMC, graduated from the MScBMC program (1T3), worked as a bioinformatician, and graduated with a BSc in molecular biology, in reverse chronological order.

Talk: Why I Stole Research from the '90s

I recently created a short animation about genetics and I'll share a story about my research process and how it informed the scientific visualization. The experience has caused me to reflect on access to information in general and primary literature specifically. I'll discuss when and why we care about scientific data, what limitations our current systems have, and how we can advocate for change.

Student Lightning Talks
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Michie Wu 

I'm currently a second year student in BMC. I specialized in forensic chemistry for my undergraduate studies at UofT. My interests within medical illustration include infographics, natural sciences, medical legal visualization, and 2D animation. This past summer, I had the opportunity to do an internship at BioRender.

Talk: Summer Internship at BioRender

I will briefly overview some of the projects I worked on during my 2 months working full time at BioRender. I will also highlight some collaborations and talk about the day to day structure of the company.

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Shehryar (Shay) Saharan

Shehryar (Shay) Saharan is a scientific communicator & designer based in Toronto, Ontario. He uses visual media and design to communicate complex scientific concepts and build interactive, educational and memorable experiences. He is currently in the Master of Science in Biomedical Communications at the University of Toronto – here, he focuses on the creation & evaluation of visual media including scientific illustration, 2D/3D animation, and interaction design. His undergraduate degree was in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Guelph. He most recently worked as a Clinical Education & Biomedical Communications Co-op at Baylis Medical.

Talk: Using Interactivity and Gamification to Augment Learning

Everyone has had to complete learning modules before – and more likely than not, these experiences have been dense and dry. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. During my co-op term at Baylis Medical, I was tasked to re-design the existing medical device training materials. With the guidance of the BMC department and the strategic use of interactivity and gamification, we were able to greatly augment the educational value for learners.

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Min Jee Kim

Min Jee is currently a second year student studying biomedical communications at the University of Toronto. Prior to BMC, she completed her BSc degree in biology at the University of British Columbia. She is currently working on her Masters Research Project on In Vitro Fertilization. In her free time, Min Jee enjoys visiting art galleries, marathoning dramas, and photographing her cat.

Talk: Summer Internship with TVASurg

I’ll be reflecting upon my experience of creating a patient education animation for TVASurg and UHN Colorectal Cancer Program about a right hemicolectomy.

Day 2 Speakers

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Nancy Ji & Shawn Liu - Keynote Speakers

Nancy Ji

After graduating from the Biomedical Communications program at the University of Toronto, I worked at Scientific Animations as a creative project manager for several years. Being fluent in Mandarin allowed me to stay connected with opportunities in China, and I maintained a freelancer status there. In early 2020, I co-founded BioHues Digital and became a regional director in 2021.

Shawn Liu

Shawn completed his undergraduate studies specializing in Human Biology. He then earned his master’s degree from the Biomedical Communications program at the University of Toronto. He gained industry experience working at Baylis Medical as a visual communicator. Shawn is committed to transforming complex scientific concepts into concise, informative, and interactive designs that educate learners of all levels.

Talk: Breaking into international markets

International students of medical visualization are often interested in job opportunities outside of their country of study. Unfortunately, the demand for this type of service is not the same everywhere in the world. It is up to us to analyze the specific landscape and make business decisions to position ourselves in the market. In this presentation, I will discuss several things I have learned from breaking into China’s market.

Advanced Education Research Series:
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Jodie Jenkinson


I am an Associate Professor and Director of Biomedical Communications at University of Toronto (Canada) and principal investigator of the Science Visualization Lab (www.sciencevis.ca). My research focuses on the role that visual representations play in learning. This includes investigation along various lines of inquiry including the efficacy of visual media within different learning contexts, the design of visual representations for optimal impact, and the development of standards of visual communication in the scientific visualization community.

Talk: Picturing science: Research in the SciVis lab

Scientific visualizations can be powerful tools of intuition, playing a critical role in transforming the way we think about the scientific realm. However, a greater understanding of how the design features and affordances of different visualization modalities support learning is required if we are to provide pedagogically impactful experiences. The research undertaken in BMC’s Science Visualization Lab is aimed at advancing our understanding of how people construct knowledge from visual artefacts. This session will provide a brief overview of the collaborative projects that currently guide our research.

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Kevin Wee


I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry (specialized in Chemical Education). My dissertation research involved the development of an evaluation methodology for the educational effectiveness of scientific education media. I am passionate about science communication, visual design, and data storytelling. I am also a Tableau Featured Author (See my data visualization portfolio) I am currently working as a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Discover Financial Services in Chicago, where I design dashboards to help the company make business decisions.

Talk: The deconstruction and evaluation of a biomedical animation using novel approaches

The presenter developed a four-step methodology entitled the Multimodal Variation Analysis of Dynamic External Representations (MVADER) that deconstructs the content and design of an education medium. The deconstruction result enables researchers to inspect how each content feature (i.e., scientific concepts) is conveyed to the audience via the medium's design elements. In this talk, MVADER will be introduced, and its application to evaluating the educational value of a biomedical animation will be presented. The evaluation result has informed the recommendations to use the studied media as an instructional tool and to create future media with similar topics.

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Andrea Gauthier


Since graduating from BMC in 2012 and completing my PhD at UofT in 2018, I have been a research fellow and (more recently) associate lecturer in Education & Technology at the University College London (UCL) Knowledge Lab. My research investigates how the design of visual media can manipulate—for better or worse—the way people think and behave. I am particularly interested in how the design interactive media and game-based learning environments in science and medicine domains can help people resolve complex misconceptions that hinder future learning and decision-making. My research aims to uncover empirical links between the design decisions that we make as creators and the cognitive processes that they support (or inhibit).

Talk: Getting kids to ‘stop and think’ using interaction design in a counterintuitive science game: an eye-tracking study

The human-computer interaction (HCI) design of educational technologies influences cognitive behaviour, so it is imperative to assess how different HCI strategies support intended behaviour. We developed a neuroscience-inspired game that trains children’s use of “stopping-and-thinking” (S&T) in the context of counterintuitive science problems. In this presentation, I’ll discuss the results of a randomised eye-tracking trial with 45 7-to-8-year-olds, where we tested the efficacy of four HCI features in supporting S&T: (1) a readiness mechanic, (2) motion cues, (3) colour cues, and (4) rewards/penalties. The results underscore the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to educational technology research that actively investigates how HCI impacts intended learning behaviours.

Panel: Anti-racist approach to medical illustration
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Ni-ka Ford

Ni-ka is an Academic Medical Illustrator at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. She creates didactic illustrations and 3D visualizations for scientific research, medical education, and patient education. Her goals include improving health literacy and contributing to the growing need for inclusive and diverse representation within medical and healthcare literature. She is currently the Chair of the Diversity Committee within the Association of Medical Illustrators and a Co-organizer for the SciVizNYC annual conference.

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Hillary Wilson

I have a deep appreciation for effective storytelling, humanity, and exploring the natural world. In my work I strive to demystify human variation and leave space for diverse stories, needs, and ways of being. I received a master's degree in Medical Illustration from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and spend my professional time striking a balance between medical and general illustration.

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Caitlin Chang

I am a founding member of the BMC Anti-Racism Coalition (BMCARC), a group of alumni and current students who are dedicated to collaborating with the BMC program in an ongoing effort to diversity the field of medical illustration. Established in 2020, BMCARC aims to actively decolonize and make anti-racist our medical illustration practice and teachings to better reflect both our community and the communities our work reaches. I graduated in 2020 and am currently working at Coactuate, a boutique strategic consultancy.

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SJ Okemow

SJ Okemow is a multi-disciplinary artist and board-certified medical illustrator. She is of mixed Cree and European ancestry. She has a BSc, an MSc, and is currently pursuing her PhD looking at visual aesthetics in medicine. As a Nêhiyaw Iskwew, urban Indigenous, mixed identity, scientist and artist who has grown up predominantly outside her ancestral culture, she has committed herself to a lifelong journey of reclamation through art, language, and most of all community.

Intro to Figma: Mobile Screen Design

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Instructor: Andrew Tran

Date: November 27, 2021

Time: 1:30 - 2:30 ET

Description: Want to get started in design, but don't know where to begin? Already experienced in pushing pixels in a design tool and want to spend less time ... pushing pixels? Want to collaborate in real time with your colleagues or or impress your clients without all the fuss? In this introductory BMClass, we will quickly get acquainted with Figma, a collaborative interface design tool, and create a simple mobile app flow for patient education. We'll also have some time to chat about how teams use Figma at different scales, from small start-ups to giant tech companies.

What you'll need: A computer and a Figma account (they're free! please set yourself up with an account prior to class in order to follow along!). Participants can use the desktop or browser version of Figma for this class.

Diving Deeper into Figma

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Instructor: Andrew Tran

Date: November 28, 2021

Time: 2:00 - 3:00 ET

Description: We will check out other neat things you can do with Figma to speed up your workflow, such as creating variants for components or an interactive prototype with simple transitions. As a bonus, we will also explore the potential of using Figma for illustration systems where you can create, collaborate, publish, and remix illustrations with variants. Imagine changing the color of a T-cell, turning on activation, and adding interactive animations — all within Figma, a free program.

What you'll need: A computer and a Figma account (they're free! please set yourself up with an account prior to class in order to follow along!). Participants can use the desktop or browser version of Figma for this class.

The Anatomy of a Surgical Animation

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Instructor: Paul Kelly

Date: November 28, 2021

Time: 2:00 - 3:00 ET

Description: This BMClass will be a demonstration of how we organize our project files for surgical animations at TVASurg. A recent solo video and an up-and-coming team video will be presented to walk viewers through two different scenarios and show some of the different considerations that must be made depending on the project structure. I will show how we utilize features such as Layers and Takes in C4D to handle animation projects with many shots (in the range of 20-40 per video). At TVASurg we make extensive use of the Notion app for team organization and project communications, use several methods for sharing and tracking changes including Annotation tags to make notes directly in the C4D scene files, and have begun to favour FBX for transferring models between C4D and ZBrush to take advantage of some key features that file format provides. This narrative-style presentation will cover many features within software tools, but more significantly, will provide an overview at the larger scale of a project management lens, with lessons that can be applied to projects regardless of software preference.

What you'll need: Nothing is required as the concepts covered can be applied to various software. If you'd like to try out some of the specific features that will be demonstrated, you'll need Cinema4D (grab a free trial copy through the Maxon app: https://www.maxon.net/en/try).