Blausen donates medical images, digital animations to University Libraries

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries has received a gift from 2014 Penn State Alumni Fellow Bruce E. Blausen to provide three years’ access to an extensive collection of digital images and three-dimensional, computer-generated animations depicting the human anatomy and physiology, medical conditions, and treatments.

In addition to increasing students’ online access to detailed renderings and animated simulations, Blausen’s collection offers Penn State the potential to transform the content for students’ immersive experiences in virtual reality settings. 

“Mr. Blausen’s donation expands the Libraries’ ability to provide tailored resources for students studying various aspects of health. Components of his gift ­elevate the Libraries’ collection and support the Libraries’ goal to provide innovative opportunities for student learning at Penn State,” said Christina L. Wissinger, health sciences liaison librarian.

Blausen, a 1984 alumnus with undergraduate degrees from the Eberly College of Science and the College of Arts and Architecture, is president of Blausen Medical Communications Inc., a small private company in Houston, Texas. He also holds a master of arts degree in medical and biological illustration from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His gift to Penn State includes files of more than 1,400 animated videos, nearly 19,000 digital high-resolution still images — some available in 3-D — and additional components.

Upon receiving his Alumni Fellow honor in 2014, Blausen realized the impact his life’s work could make on future generations of Penn State students in his fields of expertise, as well as to others trying to understand various human health and physiological functions and medical scenarios. He believes in helping nonexperts comprehend health and medical topics, especially when they have received a diagnosis — in fact, some of his early video work was created to help his mother and her friends gain a better understanding of their medical conditions. So, during his speech at the Alumni Fellow reception, he spontaneously announced that he would give Penn State his company’s creations, to be incorporated into the curriculum to help students.

The University Libraries plays a key role in providing academic-support resources to Penn State students, and seeks opportunities to offer library resources, at Penn State and elsewhere, online with unlimited access. Increasingly, the Libraries seeks innovative and transformative options to support student learning, such as applications to be used with virtual reality and immersive technologies.

The impact of Blausen’s gift extends to Penn State’s core curricula for anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, biology and microbiology, chemistry, and histology, for both residential and online students as well as their instructors.

Potential outcomes of his gift, beyond their educational value, also can support Penn State research, patient care and public relations in the fields of medicine and science by demonstrating detailed anatomical processes and functions. The animations, which include audio descriptions, also have been translated into 20 additional languages.

In addition, Blausen envisions the potential for students studying visual arts in the College of Arts and Architecture to benefit from and contribute to his gift. While still images and video simulations exist from other content providers for studying a variety of health sciences topics, virtual reality modules are not yet commonly available. By learning how to translate Blausen’s existing video modules in 2-D and 3-D viewing options into virtual reality formats, students could help make his content available for health sciences students’ immersive learning experiences at Penn State and beyond.

A 2014 College of Arts and Architecture video features Blausen speaking about the potential of future technology and the arts, including immersive technology.

Blausen plans to visit the University Park campus on March 30 to discuss the potential for his content and immersive technology to instruct and to provide additional learning opportunities for Penn State students. Individuals interested in attending should reach out to Wendi Keeler, University Libraries external relations assistant, at wak109@psu.edu for more details.

Penn State’s alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty, enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. As the five-year campaign, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," continues, the University’s colleges, campuses and other administrative units are enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives. To learn more, visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated May 16, 2018