UH Med Now

UH medical student earns top prize making her anatomical variant research “come alive” through Augmented Reality

Date: November 13th, 2017 in Alumni News, Giving, JABSOM News, Research, Student Life    Print or PDF

Pictured: A digitally reproduced heart floats above a table in the lobby of the JABSOM Biosciences Building at Kaka’ako, as viewed through a cellphone Augmented Reality app.

“The judges were so blown away they asked me to present again…”

By A.J. McWhorter, UH Med Now

A University of Hawaiʻi medical student created a 3-D image of a heart that literally jumped off the surface of her research poster, winning her a top award at the 2017 national meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP) held in April in San Diego, California. Dr. Trudy Hong, a 2017 graduate of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), was one of only five overall winners in the ACP National Abstract Research Poster Competition, selected from over 140 medical student finalists.

“I was pretty shocked when they called my name,” said Hong.

Hong used “Augmented Reality” technology in her presentation, producing a detailed image that — when viewed with a cell phone app — “came alive” to illustrate a case of a rare vascular (heart) anomoly. Aberrant right subclavian artery (ARSA) is present in rare cases at birth, but it usually does not produce any symptoms.

“Using my iPhone, I scanned the image during my presentation to trigger the appearance of this 3D model which I used to describe this common anatomical variant (ARSA) we found in the lab. Very much like (the cell-phone game) Pokémon Go,” said Hong.

A photo of a cellphone app "Viewing" the embedded photo in full 3D.

A photo of a cellphone app “viewing” the embedded photo in a medical journal in full 3D. Amanda Shell photo.

“Using augmented reality throughout the presentation was very effective and the physicians and medical students from the other schools loved our project and its applications as much as we do. The judges were so blown away they asked me to present again so they could record it on their phone,” said Hong.

Watch our video:


What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is a form of technology that can project components of the digital world into a person’s real world.

“Clinically the literature is often referred to for further reference, but (most of the literature) lacks 3D representation and thus it is difficult to visualize and increases risk for errors in interpretation. In our project, we used 3D models — images digitized from actual organs — and then applied various augmented reality tools in hopes to preserve, teach and learn the subject more quickly and effectively,” she said.

Most of the Hawaiʻi medical students that Hong showed the 3D display to found it easier to comprehend the subject matter with 3D imaging than through customary learning tools in their studies.The presentation in front of her medical student peers helped Dr. Hong validate the research involved. “It helps to see that they like what we are showing them,” she said.

Trudy's research poster, viewed through an Augmented Reality app

Trudy’s research poster, viewed through an Augmented Reality app

The work continues
Having graduated with her MD degree a month or so after winning the national research honor, Dr. Hong is currently in her first year of post-medical school training in the University of Hawaiʻi Pediatric Residency Program. She is still involved in the AR research, in collaboration with the JABSOM Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology and a startup company created there, “Radial 3D”. They are also working on a future paper stemming from her research and how medical students perceived its usefulness.

“Trudy is the best overall medical student I’ve known in my 30-year career,” said department Chair Dr. Scott Lozanoff. “I am so pleased that she decided to do her residency training here in Hawai’i.”

Trudy is shown in front of her research poster

Trudy is shown in front of her research poster at the ACP Hawaiʻi Chapter meeting in February 2017. Her success at the chapter competition put her in the running to win at the national meeting in San Diego.

Trudy Hong’s siblings are also involved in medicine; Sister Gloria graduated from JABSOM in 2015 and her brother Daniel is currently graduates from JABSOM next year (2018).

Dr. Hong, left, with her mentor Dr. Lozanoff in the JABSOM Anatomy Lab.

Hong credits her mentor and JABSOM staff for helping her accomplish the project. “I am very grateful for the support of my excellent mentor Dr. Scott Lozanoff (for all of his help and for sharing his enthusiasm and contagious passion for anatomy, teaching and research), JABSOM Department of Anatomy, the Office of Medical Education (for their unwavering support, poster printing and the Dean’s travel fund), and the ACP Hawaiʻi Chapter for providing me with the unique opportunity and travel scholarship to attend and present at this conference,” she said.

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