Medical illustration is an interdisciplinary field—a creative combination of the visual arts, the health sciences, education, and communications. Historically, its roots were fully evident by the Renaissance, as seen in the work of research anatomists and educators such as Andreas Vesalius and in the artwork of the great figurative artists such as Leonardo DaVinci. Today, medical illustration involves the conceptualization, planning, design, production, implementation and evaluation of visual solutions for complex communication and education problems in the life and health sciences. Medical illustration incorporates various media and mediums—from static artwork to animation, from anatomical sculpture to instructional games, and from molecular modeling to physiological simulation. In short, medical illustrators visualize better health.
The Medical Illustration Graduate Program is one of only four such programs in the country. The program is accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Visual problem-solving is a crucial skill for the professional medical illustrator. Throughout the curriculum, the faculty work with the students to develop their problem-solving abilities. In addition to formal classes, seminars and lectures, our students learn by hands-on performance, by participating in project critiques, and by cultivating creative thinking in peer-to-peer interactions. To better prepare our students to be productive in the rapidly evolving world of communications, class assignments are designed to give them not only theoretical knowledge but practical experience as well.
A medical illustrator’s work, unlike a photograph, must often show what cannot be directly observed in order to best communicate a scientific idea or complex medical concept. Therefore, an understanding of basic medical science is essential. Program students take graduate-level science courses, such as gross anatomy, cell biology and pathology, with the medical and dental students.
Medical Illustrators are specially trained artist-scientists. Entry into this unique field requires not only a talent for the graphic arts and visual storytelling but also an affinity for science.
Medical illustrators work in a variety of venues, including medical, dental and veterinary schools, urban medical centers, large hospitals, and specialty health care clinics. They may work for advertising agencies and publishing companies, as well as for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Medical illustrators may also work with attorneys to produce art to be used as educational exhibits in complex legal cases. Medical illustrators may work as employees—in large departments or single-person offices—or pursue private practice.
The program emphasizes anatomical and surgical illustration for print and electronic publication, as well as for projection and broadcast distribution. Because of the importance of good drawing skills, our students learn a variety of traditional illustration techniques during the first year. Computer technologies and digital techniques used to prepare both vector and raster images for print, projection, animation, and multimedia are also extensively integrated into the curriculum.
Throughout the curriculum, the faculty works with students to develop and refine their problem-solving and visual storytelling skills.
In addition to formal classes, seminars and lectures, students learn by hands-on performance, by participating in project critiques, and through peer-to-peer interactions. To better prepare our students to be productive in the rapidly evolving world of biomedical communications, program assignments are designed to give students practical experience as well as theoretical and factual knowledge.