Tag Archives: Émilie Lacharité

Émilie LacharitéÉmilie Lacharité is Digital Content Editor at CMAJ

Once in a while it's good to give ourselves a 'self-exam' and check to see what content is most popular, where our readers come from and which pages on cmaj.ca get the most traffic. The following CMAJ articles got the most views during the month of September. Some of these articles date back to previous years and are now free to view. ...continue reading

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Émilie LacharitéÉmilie Lacharité is Digital Content Editor at CMAJ

There is undeniably a modern surge of chronic disease, gut disorders and autoimmune diseases (cancer, Crohn’s, celiac disease, diabetes, lupus, etc.), especially in the Western world. Patients as well as physicians are paying more attention to the influence of external and lifestyle factors, especially nutrition, stress, and physical movement, on health and chronic systemic inflammation. There seems to be a shift towards patient-centered and whole-body medicine (as opposed to organ-driven diagnosis). More and more patients want to move away from the one-disease-one-pill mentality.

This week, until September 15th, there is a very interesting and perhaps lesser-known online event happening called the Evolution of Medicine Summit. 40 health experts (most of them MDs) are sharing their research, experience and observations regarding the important influence of lifestyle factors on overall health.

The opening talk on Monday was by Dr. Joel Evans, board-certified OB/GYN, senior teaching faculty at the Institute for Functional Medicine and Centre for Mind/Body Medicine. Dr. Evans says that medicine has become depersonalized ...continue reading

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Émilie Lacharité is Digital Content Editor at CMAJ (she is also a trained medical illustrator)

Perhaps you’re familiar with the profession, but many are not. Medical illustrators are educated in human anatomy and life sciences and have the skills and technical training to communicate scientific concepts in a visual way. They create animations, illustrations, 3D medical models, virtual simulations, medical games, interactive educational modules, and more. There is one accredited program in Canada, Biomedical Communications, at the University of Toronto (my alma mater).

Last week, I attended the Association of Medical Illustrator's 69th annual conference in Rochester, MN, home of the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Rochester is a tiny town but it boasts an impressive variety of leaders and experts in diverse fields. Our group of 400+ attendees got to hear from some of them, as well as other awe-inspiring speakers from around the globe.

There were so many great talks and I wish I could address them all but, alas, here’s a quick flyby:

Dr. Christopher Moir, pediatric surgeon at Mayo Clinic, gave a poignant and emotional talk about the successful separation of conjoined twins Abbigail and Isabelle Carlsen, which took place back in 2006. He explained that multiple imaging techniques ultimately still fell short in detailing the intricacies of the girls’ anatomical abnormalities (such as a common duodenum, and a messy network of bile ducts) in a way that was clear enough for the surgical team to feel confident with performing the operation. Medical illustrator Michael King was asked to step in and worked closely with pediatric radiologist Dr. Jane Matsumoto to provide a series of extremely accurate illustrations of the twins’ anatomy (see one sample below). These provided a crucial surgical planning tool for the team of 70+ people who separated the twins. The poster-sized print-outs were then used as reference on the day of the surgery. “Medical illustrators saved the lives of two girls”, said Dr. Moir.

Mayo Clinic conjoined twins' illustration

Again on the theme of medical planning tools, Mayo Clinic pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Nicholas Wetjen, explained a new approach used for surgical treatment of craniosynostosis (the abnormal fusion of one or more bones of the skull in infancy). A medical 3D animator (whose name I unfortunately did not catch), uses CT scan information from a child’s malformed skull, recreates it in 3D software, and essentially provides a virtual platform in which surgeons can break down the top portion of the skull into pieces - think puzzle pieces - and reconfigure the skull into a more natural shape. They then map out the new skull pieces with lettered codes on the child's skull and perform the operation. Their research on the technique has found it yields a better shape result with a single, shorter operation. Win, win. More details here.

Lee Aase, Director of Social Media for Mayo Clinic, shared his insights on the importance of being out there (here?) in the world of #socialmedia. He said the networking that happens on social platforms is what drove Mayo to the top, despite it being in a small city. And with its relatively minimal cost, the return on investment for being involved in social networking has the potential to be quite large.

In their talks, MK Czerwiec (aka Comic Nurse) and Johns Hopkins medical illustrator and instructor Lydia Gregg, shared with us the power of comics in medicine. Although they have been in the field for a long time, graphic novels and comics are now being recognized as an important and effective modality for knowledge transmission, especially for taboo or touchy subjects (e.g. bipolar disorder), the younger crowd (e.g. asthma education, retinoblastoma), or even for global topics such as a graphic novel on pandemics, published by the CDC. Comic Nurse MK Czerwiec, who is in fact a nurse, now does workshops with medical students to unleash their inner graphic art talent. For more on graphics in medicine, check out graphicmedicine.org.

Avid Twitter user Jen Christiansen, Art Director of Information Graphics at Scientific American, shared her insights on the difficulties of visualizing complex scientific information for both an educated lay audience and an expert audience within the same graphic. Not an easy task but she always finds beautiful solutions. She also challenged us to rethink how we depict the brain, an organ that may be better understood as a functional map rather than an anatomical one. See the Human Brain Project for more information.

There is a fascinating community of science+art lovers on the Internet. Some of the insiders helped us explore this world. There was Glendon Mellow, social media guru, talented artist, and blogger for the Scientific American blog Symbiartic, a lovely fellow with an under-appreciated sense of humour. There was also Julia Buntaine, founder and editor-in-chief of online magazine SciArt in America, who seems to know everything about science-based art. Follow #sciart, #scicomm on Twitter and check out scienceblogs.com for more.

A handful of fine artists shared with us how they have discovered a love for anatomy and medicine and garnered attention along the way. There was Lisa Nilsson, of the Tissue Series fame, who recreates anatomical cross sections entirely out of rolled-up narrow strips of paper (a technique called quilling). Artist Danny Quirk uses liquid latex and markers to dissect with a paintbrush directly on human subjects, giving us a dramatic peek inside (see below).

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Then, if all that wasn't enough, our minds were blown by a couple of speakers who have worked with the likes of National Geographic, BBC, Discovery Channel and, oh ya, George Lucas. The first was Viktor Deak, paleo-artist, who, as he put it best, "likes to make heads". In his small NY City home studio, he creates anatomically correct forensic reconstructions of fossil hominids, both in sculpture and as paintings or murals. This video pretty much sums up the greatness that is Viktor Deak.

The second mind-blowing presenter was Andrew Cawrse, who gave a few talks and workshops. Andrew started out as a visual effects guru working with the greats in California and while doing so he became obsessed with sculpting human anatomy. He eventually left Hollywood (!) in order to dedicate himself to teaching and his anatomical modelling company. His Sculpting for Surgeons class teaches cosmetic and plastic surgeons to pay attention to the aesthetics and proportions of anatomy as well as its function. "Be addicted to the human form," he said, "in order to recreate its beauty."

Émilie LacharitéÉmilie Lacharité is Digital Content Editor at CMAJ

If you think the majority of web traffic on cmaj.ca comes from Canada, think again. In the past year, our website got a total of 2,162,025 visitor sessions (or hits) from all over the world, but only 37% of the traffic came from Canada. In other words, 63% or almost 2/3 of the traffic was from outside this country.

Our American friends generated 28% of total visits, with New York, Los Angeles and Chicago being the top US cities to visit our website. We can see, in the graphic below, that the UK, Australia and India round off our top five. We also get a fly-by of the top 20 countries, by visitor session.

CMAJ.ca analytics map

Our website analytics also allow us to look at which articles have attracted the most attention. Over the past year, five articles have caused noticeable spikes in website traffic. They are, in order:

Gambling and hospital lotteries: looking out for losers

Current and former marijuana use: preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of effects on IQ in young adults

Relation between place of residence and postpartum depression

Association between serum cholesterol and eating behaviours during early childhood: a cross-sectional study

Comparative effectiveness of angiotensin-receptor blockers for preventing macrovascular disease in patients with diabetes: a population-based cohort study

Of note, the above marijuana article dates back to 2002, but because someone recently posted it on the user-generated news and entertainment website Reddit, our website received double the traffic that day, mostly from the US. Thank you, social media.

Another article that consistently receives a lot of traffic is a review on the health benefits of physical activity. It is by far the most viewed article on our website in recent years.

Analytics provide fascinating insight into website traffic patterns, which then allows us to realign and readjust to our readership. So...hello world.