“3-D cancer cell visualization for patients and scientists”

  • ©John B. McGhee and Paul D. Andrews

  • ©John B. McGhee and Paul D. Andrews




    3-D cancer cell visualization for patients and scientists



    There is increasing evidence to suggest patients want to find out more about cancer through new media [Ziebland et al. 2004; Evrarda et al. 2005]. Based on ongoing collaborative work between The Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and scientists at the Wellcome Trust Biocentre we have identified a need for 3-D time-based visualisation strategies to enable a greater understanding, among both patients and scientists alike, of the processes underlying cancer cell division. We utilized real data from microscope imaging which uses optical sectioning and timelapse analysis to capture 4-D datasets comprising thousands of 2-D images of cells only a fraction of the width of a human hair. However, the subsequent output formats are purely diagnostic, often difficult to interpret and certainly are not patient friendly. Captured as a series of 2-D slices, the interpretation of such medical images can cause confusion, anxiety and fear amongst both patients and their families. For the scientist, dealing with the three-dimensionality of cellular structures when faced with a series of 2-D images can often be difficult. This problem is compounded when the 3-D spatial arrangement changes over time, as is the case when live cells are imaged [Gerlich et al. 2003].


    1. Ziebland, S., Chapple, A., Dumelow, C., Evans, J., Prinjha, S., and Rozmovits, L. 2004. How the internet affects patients’ experience of cancer: a qualitative study. The British Medical Journal 328, 564.
    2. Evrard, S., Mathoulin-Pelissier, S., Larrue, C., Lapouge, P., Bussieres, E., and Tunon DE LARA, C. 2005. Evaluation of a preoperative multimedia information program in surgical oncology, European Journal of Surgical Oncology 31, 106–110.
    3. Gerlich, D., Mattes, J., and Eils, R. 2003. Quantitative motion analysis and visualization of cellular structures, Methods 29, 3–13.

ACM Digital Library Publication:

Overview Page: