Digital Anatomy

Building interactive medical images to enhance anatomical learning

In 2013, with a 4-VA grant called Digital Anatomy Repository and support from JMU’s Innovation Services, Dr. Erika Kancler developed special radiology images for teaching anatomy to undergraduates at JMU. Using Neatline, a tool originally intended to enhance geographical maps and timelines, Dr. Kancler created interactive and informative maps and timelines of the human body. Each detailed X-ray image is tagged with “hot spots” with annotations to identify complex and minute anatomical structures and pathologies. The images are stored in Innovation Services’ Omeka system, which is a web-publishing platform for curating digital collections of research.

In the spring of 2017, 4-VA awarded Dr. Erika Kancler a grant called Radiology for anatomists: Building interactive medical images to enhance anatomical learning to collaborate with Carolyn Schubert and Kevin Hegg from JMU, along with Dr. Kitt Shaffer at the Boston University School of Medicine. The funding is helping the team improve the user interface and provides software for photo editing, usability testing and software development.

Undergraduate students have played a key role in the project by curating content for the system. They have spent several semesters outlining structures on x-ray images using Affinity Photo, uploading x-ray images and “layers” of anatomical structures into Neatline and Omeka, and tagging and linking the structures to make the images searchable. They presented a poster at JMU’s Teaching and Learning with Technology conference in 2016.

Dr. Erika Kancler
Assistant Professor of Health Sciences

Carolyn Schubert
Assistant Professor of Health Sciences
Nursing Librarian

Kevin Hegg
Director of Digital Projects

Dr. Kitt Shaffer
Professor of Radiology and Vice-Chairman for
Education at the Boston University School of Medicine

Grant Info

  • 2013 – 4-VA awarded JMU $10,000 for Digital Anatomy.

  • 2017 – 4-VA awarded JMU $7,000 for Radiology for Anatomists: Building Interactive Medical Images to Enhance Anatomical Learning.

Mary Pegelow

This project has been quite impactful for me. I have known for some time that I wanted to become a physician assistant (PA), but this project really affirmed that for me. Dr. Erika Kancler has been inspiring to work alongside and her constant encouragement has really propelled me to develop a strong work ethic and a powerful desire to pursue my dreams. This project has really cemented my knowledge of anatomy, which has subsequently increased my confidence as I prepare to enter the grueling realm of PA school.

Mary PegelowHealth Sciences, Class of 2017
Kevin White

It is important to get the basic anatomical knowledge down, but you must be able to build on it and apply it to your profession to be successful. By annotating these images, we give students the ability to study a tool that they may not have been able to access otherwise. It puts me at an advantage over other medical school students because I have experience looking at X-rays while most of them do not. While I’m definitely not an expert, this project has provided me with the grounding I need to be successful as a physician.

Kevin WhiteHealth Sciences, Class of 2017
Dr. Erika Kancler

Our research consists of the development of a novel online, interactive pedagogy tool for health professions students to learn anatomical structures through medical images used in “real life” scenarios.

Dr. Erika KanclerAssistant Professor of Health Sciences

Conference

  • Presented Poster: “Looking Underneath: Building Interactive Medical Images to Enhance Anatomical Learning”. Teaching and Learning with Technology conference at James Madison University. October 24, 2016.

Benefits to the Commonwealth

Demonstrated Virginia’s impact on STEM education

Developed new tools for teaching and learning

Enhanced student performance, retention and success in STEM programs

Student Impact

Empowered students to build a valuable educational tool

Provided students with a deeper understanding of anatomy

Student Researchers

  • Anna Steenland – Nursing, Class of 2019
  • Kevin White – Health Sciences, Class of 2017
  • Kody Farrington – Health Sciences, Class of 2017
  • Laura Young – Nursing, Class of 2019
  • Mary Pegelow – Health Sciences, Class of 2017
  • Mikayla Comer – Health Sciences, Class of 2017
  • Monica Eaton – Health Sciences, Class of 2017
7

Student Researchers

1

Conference