Visualizing a novel route of medulloblastoma metastasis: an educational 3D animation

Faculty Supervisors: Prof. Nick Woolridge, Prof. Marc Dryer | Department of Biology, University of Toronto

Content Supervisors: Dr. Michael Taylor, Dr. Craig Daniels | The Brain Tumour Research Center, the Hospital for Sick Children


THE PROBLEM

For decades, scientists thought that medulloblastoma, a childhood brain cancer, metastasized only through cerebrospinal fluid followed by implantation on the spinal cord. However, within the past year researchers in the Taylor Lab at SickKids Hospital found that this is not the case. It turns out medulloblastoma can spread through the circulatory system as well!

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The problem is that scientists are largely unaware of this new mechanism of metastasis, even though it plays an important role in disease prognosis, management, and therapy. Also, currently there are no treatments that target metastases. Considering that the circulatory route presents a novel target for treatment, it is critical that this research is disseminated within the scientific community. It is also important to generate interest in this topic in order to motivate further research in this field.


THE SOLUTION

Research has shown that animation can be an effective method for the dissemination of research findings to the community and can be highly effective in increasing interest in scientific topics. Hence, the solution is to develop a 3D animation to disseminate these research findings with the hope that it will educate, inspire, and motivate scientists to pursue further research that will lead to the development of targeted therapies.


THE PROCESS

Summer 2018: literature review and proposal

Fall 2018: script and narration development

Fall 2018: storyboard and animatic development

Winter 2019: develop the visual style and 3D assets

Spring 2019: begin final production

  • Visual assets and characters modelled in ZBrush and Maya

  • Rigging and animation done in Maya

  • Rendering in Maya and compositing in AfterEffects

Summer 2019: project completion