2015 Netter Award

2015 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient


BoneBoxThe BoneBoxTM Series is an exceptional collection of user-centric anatomical resources that simulate holding human bones in your hands with the enhancement of interactive tools to supplement their value. Rather than physical models, these virtual bones are accessed through apps on an iPad, iPhone, Mac, or Android device. The high fidelity models can enhance understanding of human anatomy in a variety of situations.

BoneBox_3 Let’s say, for example, a patient is admitted to the ER with blunt impact head trauma, and is sent to surgery for emergency intervention. An allied health professional is tasked with communicating to the patient’s family the diagnosis of an epidural hematoma and explaining the surgical intervention. The allied health professional can show the patient’s family the relevant intracranial anatomy on a highly detailed mid-sagittal cross-section of the skull, draw the course of the middle meningeal artery on the model in 3D, and then select an alternate colored pen tool to draw the area of the hematoma. The allied health professional can then rotate the model to show the family where the surgeon will drill to relieve the pressure, and why their loved one will have a surgical wound in that location.

When used as a study aid, students can engage color coding and labels to identify bony landmarks. A quiz function (available on many models) is useful for testing knowledge.



The BoneBoxTM applications enhance understanding of human anatomy and medical conditions through the use of highly detailed and accurate models, interactive features, and accessibility on virtually universal devices.

For additional information, visit the iSO-FORM website:


2013 Netter Award

2013 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient

Foldit, The Foldit Team at the University of Washington

Foldit is a computer game that enables players to support advances in health and the treatment of disease by determining the structure of proteins – the complex molecules that enable life functions such as digesting food, carrying oxygen in the blood, and providing energy to muscles. Foldit players use controls in a computer model to manipulate the position of amino acids (the building blocks of a protein) into their most stable configuration.

The physical structure of a protein (the way the the chain of amino acids folds) is key to how the protein functions. A protein’s physical structure determines the molecules with which a protein can bind and interact.

What is the impact of determining a protein’s structure and designing a new protein to interact with it? Two major health challenges demonstrate how a protein-based intervention can disrupt a disease process. One example is HIV. The replication of HIV in the body is accomplished through the action of proteins. HIV medications disrupt the action of HIV proteins, thereby preventing replication of the virus. When viral load decreases, the infected individual is healthier and the chance of spreading the virus to another person is diminished. Another example is Alzheimer’s disease. Short protein segments are the byproduct of a normal protein function in the brain. It is thought that clumps of this short protein are a contributory factor in the disease. A protein intervention has the potential to disrupt the protein clumping seen in people with the disease.

Foldit’s visual representation of amino acid chains enables its players to solve fundamental protein structural mysteries and ultimately use the solutions to intervene in pathological processes.


A Foldit introductory level introduces freezing. A large red void in the center of the protein shows empty space to be filled.


Foldit players have control over which parts of the protein they want to move. In this picture, a player has frozen some curly helices, which keeps them in place while they adjust the rest of the protein.

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Foldit players use a variety of tools to interactively reshape proteins. In this picture, a player uses rubber bands to pull together two sheets, long flat regions of the protein.

For additional information visit the Foldit website .

2012 Netter Award

The Johns Hopkins Atlas of Pancreatic Surgery2012 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient

Ralph Hruban, MD; Bona Kim, MA; Corinne Sandone, MA, CMI; and Toby Cornish MD, PhD

The Vesalius Trust is pleased to announce the 2012 recipient of the Dr. Frank H. Netter Award is The Johns Hopkins Atlas of Pancreatic Pathology. This innovative, visually based training product is delivered on an iPad and improves understanding of medical information. The atlas was created by Ralph Hruban, MD; Bona Kim, MA; Corinne Sandone, MA, CMI; and Toby Cornish MD, PhD. The application supports the display of high-resolution images covering 115 diagnostic entities with 1,400 photographs and 26 medical illustrations.

Distinguishing among the various tumors that can develop in the pancreas is critical to patient care, and yet pancreatic pathology can be exceptionally challenging. Studying many examples of each entity is important in the training of a diagnostic pathologist as it exposes the trainee to the full range of appearances of each entity. This atlas consists of an interactive diagnostic algorithm, a searchable image atlas, and an image-based quiz. Dr. Jon Davison, Assistant Professor of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh commented, “I have found that the algorithmic approach presented in the application for distinguishing tumors in the pancreas is a very effective way to teach our own residents to recognize the most common types of tumors and pathologic entities in the pancreas. This algorithm is presented elsewhere in print; however, the iPad application facilitates comparisons between entities and permits the manipulation of the material in a way that is not possible with a bound book.”

The Johns Hopkins Atlas of Pancreatic Pathology is a free application from the Apple store. It shares the expertise of a world-renowned pathologist and exceptional visual communicators with healthcare providers worldwide.

For additional information, see a video demonstration on Vimeo.

The Johns Hopkins Team

Front row ( left to right): Toby Cornish, Corinne Sandone, Ralph Hruban and Bona Kim. Back row: Norman Barker, Robert Miller, Jim Doran and Gary Lees.

2010 Netter Award

2010 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award

Emmi Programs by Emmi Solutions, LLC

Emmi Programs are online, multimedia programs prescribed to patients to help them prepare for procedures, make medical decisions, and learn about health conditions. Through the use of interactive media the programs provide information on medical topics and help patients make informed decisions about their care.

The online programs are well designed for the lay public and the content is presented in a conversational style that is easy to comprehend. Simple, elegant, contemporary, and effective images are well integrated with the narration and play a crucial role in making complex subjects understandable.

Emmi programs are developed in cooperation with a team of medical clinicians, illustrators, and writers. Feedback was provided by patients to ensure the content reflects the patient experience and addresses common questions.

The goal of the more than 130 patient education programs is to improve clinical and financial outcomes by using patient engagement as a business and care strategy.


2009 Netter Award

2009 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient:
Limbs and Things’ PROMPT Birthing Simulator

Visual communication in the health sciences comes in many forms these days. Simulators are an example of biomedical visualization that has a direct and significant impact on the way healthcare is taught and practiced.

Eight years of research went into the design and development of the remarkable PROMPT Birthing Simulator. This training device teaches practitioners how to handle a variety of delivery situations including the unpredictable obstetric emergency of shoulder dystocia. When it is not handled well, shoulder dystocia results in brachial plexus injury and even death to the baby and serious injury to the mother.

When medical emergencies occur, novices are frequently pushed out of the way as experts deal with critical situations. Without direct, hands-on experience, it is difficult (if not impossible) to develop the psychomotor skills and sensitivity to handle unusual situations. This is where a high-fidelity simulator is effective in providing training. The PROMPT birthing simulator offers a safe environment where learners practice deliveries and develop sensitivity in the application of force to avoid serious injury. Studies have shown training on the PROMPT simulator reduces injury due to shoulder dystocia.

Through a lengthy iterative process of refining models, the Limbs and Things team developed realistic newborn and mother models. The current sophisticated models overcame many obstacles to withstand the physical stresses of the birthing process. The mother model features moveable legs to simulate multiple delivery positions. It has a realistic bony pelvis with durable and stretchable skin that can be detached to allow trainees to see internal maneuvers and fetal position. The baby model is the weight of a newborn child. It has palpable fontanelles, suture lines, clavicles and scapulae. There is a detachable placenta and umbilical cord. In addition, the baby has an internal electronic strain gauge, which provides time and stress feedback for the management of shoulder dystocia.

The Vesalius Trust is proud to recognize the PROMPT Birthing Simulator for its significant impact on the improvement of healthcare delivery.


2008 Netter Award

2008 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient:
The Virtual Temporal Bone Dissection Project
Ohio State University, Ohio Supercomputer Center, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital

The Virtual Temporal Bone Project is a collaboration among physicians and researchers that uses a real-time, interactive system to train surgeons on difficult and delicate surgical techniques involving the temporal bone in the skull. This type of training on a computer simulator is a natural fit for a generation of surgeons who grew up playing computer games.

The Virtual Temporal Bone Project can do everything from mimic the complex interaction between the surgeon and the drill, to provide insight into the location of critical structures within the temporal bone. A joystick is used to convey the same resistance that a drill encounters in real bone. Unlike typical training methods on cadavers, virtual patients can bleed, which requires students to think on their feet in life-like demonstrations.

“With this type of training, surgeons are not only learning with their eyes, but also with their sense of touch,” says Gregory Wiet, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology and biomedical informatics at The Ohio State University. “This is an important tool in the learning process in which surgeons need to know how to use their senses in order to guide their surgery.”

The Virtual Temporal Bone Project was selected for the Netter Award because of its outstanding level of sophistication and nuance in the visuals as well as its unparalleled interaction between the visual effects and the haptics. In addition, the product is readily accessible because it uses off-the shelf hardware that can run on an ordinary PC.


2007 Netter Award

2007 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient
Virtual Eye/Virtual House
UIC Department of Pharmacy Practice and VR MedLab, and Allergan

Imagine yourself as a tiny observer inside the human eye. The UIC three-dimensional virtual model of an eye presents an immersive, stereoscopic experience that allows a user to virtually enter the eye to gain an understanding of anatomy, common eye diseases, and methods of drug delivery for the treatment of ocular disease. Created by a team of experts including ophthalmologists, a pharmacist, computer programmers, and experts in biomedical visualization; this educational tool adds new depth in the ability to communicate information about sight. Dynamic features such as the ability to scale, rotate, and view the model from any angle allow users to interact with a realistic model of the eye rather than merely observe it in two dimensional photographs or illustrations. The level of sophistication of the model allows it to be used for everything from patient education to training for physicians specializing in ophthalmology.

A companion virtual model of a common scene (interior of a house) shows defects in the visual field that are associated with ocular pathology. Team member, Mary Rasmussen, describes one of the goals, “We wanted to use the power of virtual reality technology to better communicate the diminished vision caused by disease processes.” This is accomplished with stereovision that can demonstrate different visual defects in each eye. The realism of the model emphasizes the extent to which eye diseases interfere with normal vision and the difficulties encountered by people with visual defects.



2006 Netter Award

2006 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient:
A Dynamic Approach to Learning Respiratory Physiology
Michael J. Parker, Harvard Medical School

The intersection of diverse skill sets can produce extraordinary results. This concept is exemplified in A Dynamic Approach to Learning Respiratory Physiology where a traditional textbook becomes a much more powerful learning tool through the use of animation and simulations on the web.

Dr. Michael Parker of Harvard Medical School combines his knowledge of engineering, computer science, medicine, and instructional design to simplify abstract and complex subjects down to their essential elements, then expertly uses sophisticated tools to create unique and understandable models. The subjects he tackles are those that are most difficult to learn—mostly physiological concepts that are dynamic and abstract. Traditional textbooks rely on text and two-dimensional images. Words and static images have limited impact, often leaving the learner with inadequate understanding of the subject.

Dr. Parker and Dr. Richard Schwartzstein collaborated to identify subjects that are most challenging to students in a critical area of medicine, respiratory physiology. Their learning solutions include a variety of innovative applications including interactive models, animations, and visual representations of equations. Virtual models focus on the essence of the subject and allow learners to develop a solid, fundamental understanding of subjects that often take years to appreciate. The significance of these extraordinary learning tools is that improved learning leads to the ability to provide better healthcare.


2005 Netter Award

2005 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient:
Glass Horse Project
University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine

Maya software, used by Hollywood filmmakers to create sophisticated animations, has been used to visualize development of diseases in the horse. A team of veterinarians, computer graphic artists, and an educational technologist at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine have succeeded in developing interactive 3D models to show normal anatomy and simulations of pathological changes over time. The Glass Horse is an innovative interactive program delivered on CD. High quality graphics take the viewer inside the body to view internal organs that are the most common sites of debilitating disease and injury.

Understanding complex three-dimensional relationships is one of the biggest challenges in medicine. The Glass Horse allows users to rotate models and examine spatial relationships among essential tissues. In addition, animations demonstrate changes over time as organs transform from normal healthy tissues to disease states. These animations are a significant improvement over traditional educational materials that are limited to images on paper and do not demonstrate the progression of pathological development. As well as educating veterinary students, this product allows horse owners to have an increased awareness of diseases and seek early treatment for common ailments.

The Glass Horse exemplifies trends in effective training that give students control over their learning. Users engage in active participation with their learning materials and have the ability to rotate the models they are studying. The CDs can also be used by animal owners for just-in-time learning, which presents focused modules of information that are accessed at the user’s convenience.

2002 Netter Award

2002 Dr. Frank H. Netter Award Recipient
AccuTouch Endoscopy Simulator
Immersion Medical

The AccuTouch Endoscopy Simulator by Immersion Medical revolutionized medical training by creating a realistic environment where it is possible to practice complex medical procedures on a computer rather than on a person. It allows healthcare providers to gain experience without causing any risks to patients, avoids experimentation on animals, and increases competency for specific procedures. As the use of complex, minimally invasive medical procedures continues to rise, simulators that can accurately reproduce the tactile sensations of these procedures will play an increasingly important role in medical training.

The AccuTouch Endoscopy Simulator addresses the need for accurate, safe, economical and efficient training methods. Recent studies indicate that physician error causes medical complications, increased healthcare costs and sometimes death. Allowing healthcare providers to practice on a simulator can reduce the incidence of these problems. Simulators permit trainees to practice in a calm environment where they can become competent in their skills before performing procedures in real-life situations.

Through the use of superior, realistic graphics and sensory feedback, this endoscopy simulator provides an unsurpassed learning environment. The trainee interacts with the same instrument that is used in clinical settings. The simulator responds to the learner’s actions in realistic ways by generating reactions based upon use of the equipment. Tissues change visibly and respond to interactions with the user. Not only does the simulated patient complain if there is discomfort, but internal structures show evidence of bruising and bleeding. Additional visual references provide valuable educational information. Finally, an evaluation report documents user performance.