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Visualizing cells and humans in 3D: Biomedical image analysis at nanometer and meter scales.
Researchers analyzed and presented volume data from the Visible Human Project (VHP) and data from high-resolution 3D ion-abrasion scanning electron microscopy (IA-SEM). They acquired the VHP data using cryosectioning, a destructive approach to 3D human anatomical imaging resulting in whole-body images with a field of view approaching 2 meters and a minimum resolvable feature size of 300 microns. IA-SEM is a type of block-face imaging microscopy, a destructive approach to microscopic 3D imaging of cells. The field of view of IA-SEM data is on the order of 10 microns (whole cell) with a minimum resolvable feature size of 15 nanometers (single-slice thickness). Despite the difference in subject and scale, the analysis and modeling methods were remarkably similar. They are derived from image processing, computer vision, and computer graphics techniques. Moreover, together we are employing medical illustration, visualization, and rapid prototyping to inform and inspire biomedical science. By combining graphics and biology, we are imaging across nine orders of magnitude of space to better promote public health through research.