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Center for Human Simulation


The Center for Human Simulation (CHS) is a synthesis of human anatomy and computed three-dimensional imaging. This synthesis resulted in a three-dimensional, high resolution database of human male and female anatomy (the Visible Human) as derived from direct analysis of anatomical specimens and radiological imaging. The general purpose of this Center is to facilitate the collaboration of anatomists, radiologists, computer scientists, engineers, physicians and educators to promote the application of this and other anatomical data to basic and clinical research, clinical practice and teaching.

Overall, the Center's advances will provide health care professionals effectively with a thorough understanding of human form, function and development. Furthermore, these advances will enable them to electronically model normal, pathologic and procedural changes in, or manipulations of, human anatomy. Therefore, the major goal of the Center is to develop simulators that provide interactions with computerized anatomy in virtual space.

The Visible Human database defines the anatomy of the adult human body in three dimensions and at high resolution. Radiological studies will fuel the extension of these forms to models with controllable development, normal functions and pathology. Anesthesiology simulators, commercially available today, will be integrated with the complete virtual operating rooms of the Center. Body movements and fluid dynamics will add external and internal kinetics to the computerized anatomy of the Visible Human. Development of these functional models will require the interaction and collaboration of a broad range of experts, including mathematicians, computer scientists, anatomists, bioengineers, physicians, pathologists, anthropologists and others. Eventually, the application, distribution and management of these models will necessitate the involvement of medical information specialists, educators and library scientists.

As models are developed and databases extended, they will be used in education at all levels, but especially for health care professionals. In the University of Colorado Denver environment, this will include not only courses in human anatomy and physiology for students of medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, nursing, CHAPS and dental hygiene but also training in radiology and in surgical disciplines. Moreover, trained health care professionals will be able to develop, teach and practice diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in virtual reality, on electronic normalized patients. The teaching tools will be available for all levels of education and are anticipated to accompany the health care professional throughout their chosen career.

As the Center develops, it will become increasingly active in graduate and postdoctoral education of young scientists. The goal of this research training program is to educate the anatomist of the 21st century, a new type of anatomist/computer imaging specialist. In order to achieve this goal, a training program will be developed that spans the range from anatomy to radiological imaging, computer science, and engineering. This will be an interdisciplinary effort, and will involve faculty from all CU campuses.

The current knowledge explosion in biomedical science necessitates greater efficiency in training, data search and testing for all health care professionals, but particularly for physicians. This applies especially to anatomy, which is difficult to visualize in three dimensions but provides much of the fundamental vocabulary of the health care professional. Increasingly sophisticated presentations of anatomy are important as reference standards in conjunction with the development of more and more abstract radiological imaging techniques. Increasingly complex clinical procedures, and the need to teach them, make the development of virtual-reality models highly desirable. Analogous to flight simulation, this construct allows the student to participate often and repeatedly in rare and emergency procedures. The goals and cooperative efforts of the Center for Human Simulation respond directly to these needs of the Medical School and the missions of the University of Colorado Denver.

The Center for Human Simulation will be based firmly on human anatomy and physiology, just as medical and dental students -- and indeed most health care professionals -- begin their education with a foundation in anatomy. As anatomical models are developed they will serve the teaching mission of the University of Colorado Denver, initially in courses based on human anatomy. The first use of Visible Human material was in the Dental Gross Anatomy course for first-year CU dentistry students in the fall of 1994. The Visible Human Male has been used in our Dental School Gross Anatomy class since 1995. With the establishment in 1996 of a computer laboratory, use of the Visible Human has been improved and expanded; it was introduced to the Medical Gross Anatomy Course in 1996. Subsequently, the electronic teaching materials will become available to anatomy courses for other health care professionals and to clinical courses. When the appropriate tools are available they will be used also for post-professional training and Continuing Medical Education.

In the research arena, collaborations of the anatomical imaging laboratory with members of Radiology, Rheumatology, Otolaryngology, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Anesthesiology already are in progress. For example our presentation, with neuroradiology, on the three- dimensional nature of the amygdala and lateral horns of the left ventricle won the Summa Cum Laude Award for scientific exhibits at the 31st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Neuroradiology. Collaborations with Radiologists and Anthropologists at the Museum of Natural History resulted in presentations at the 1994 International Conference on Paleontology in Denver. A presentation was made at the 1995 Society of Otolaryngologists meeting on the structure and function of the muscles at the origin of the Eustachian tube. In collaboration with the Department of Anesthesiology "A New Interactive Computer System to Learn the Celiac Plexus Block" won first prize for scientific exhibits at the American Society of Anesthesiologists Annual Meeting in Atlanta (October, 1995) and again took first prize at another meeting of the same group in New York (November, 1995). This system, based on the Visible Human, enables the trainee to practice correct needle placement in virtual reality. The Visible Human Project video produced and edited with the National Center for Atmospheric Research for SIGGRAPH 1995 won first place honors at the NICCOGRAPH computer graphics conference, Tokyo, Japan, 1995. Finally, a collaborative joint proposal entitled, "Rapid Prototyping of Procedures and Virtual Reality Training in Gynecologic and Reproductive Health Care" has been submitted to the Women's Health Research Program of the Department of Defense.

The Visible Human Male already has become an accepted world standard of computer-based anatomy, and the Female, generated at higher resolution, represents an additional step forward. The Center for Human Simulation has experience in traditional polygon rendering of anatomical structures, and has developed unique ways of handling the three-dimensional data of the Visible Human to generate photorealistic surgical simulations never seen before.