From Cave Paintings to Computers

 From Cave Paintings to Computers (The history and value of medical illustration)

What do these people have in common? Leonardo DaVinci, Andreus Vesalius, Seigfried Albinus, Max Broedel, Tom Jones, and Frank Netter?

The were medical illustrators, a profession that played a vital role in the advancement of medical science and education, medical research, anatomy, surgery, and health care for hundreds of years. The first medical/anatomical illustrations were found deep in dark caves, painted on cave walls by early humans.

Tom Weinzerl, director of the Department of Visual Media (formally The Department of Medical Illustration) at the Indiana University School of Medicine will be our guest speaker in December. He will present power point slides about his department and talk about the long and “illustrious” history of medical illustration and the important role it currently plays in medical schools, hospitals, research centers, and pharmaceutical companies around the world. Prof. Weinzerl and Craig Gosling, who is a retired medical illustrator, will contrast the early beginnings of medical illustration to the current state of the art, which now utilizes virtual reality teaching and computer generated art. Profs. Weinzerl and Gosling will introduce attendees to 3D medical stimulators, which are vital in teaching psychomotor skills to medical students and residents. Come to the presentation and learn how to do an actual rectal/prostate examination (rubber gloves and lubricant provided), a skill that will never be of any use to you. It should be an interesting evening. Craig Gosling is the group leader.


History of Medical Illustration at Indiana University School of Medicine, 1933 – 2002

Department of Visual Media 2002 – present

 Early Years

In 1933, Dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Willis D. Gatch, established a Department of Medical Illustration. As a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine he was aware of its Department of Medical Illustration headed by the famous Max Broedel. Sparse funds and many other urgent needs of the I.U. School of Medicine made the Gatch’s idea unpopular with faculty competing for funding themselves. Nevertheless, Dr. Gatch overcame the resistance and was successful. He recognized that medical education and research, patient care, recruiting, growth, and fund acquisition all required a functional department that could supply faculty with medical illustration, photography, and graphic art in response to their research and professional needs.

Dr. Gatch hired a local graphic artist to head the department. James Glore, a recent graduate of the Chicago Art Institute, readily accepted the challenge. He became a self-taught medical photographer and illustrator and soon established not only a comprehensive service department but also a popular meeting place for faculty needing a short break from their busy schedules. Illustration and photography were soon recognized as essential for the production of research papers, for presentations at professional meetings, for grant application, and for teaching material. The department grew steadily.


Illustration – By 1960 Jim Glore realized the School of Medicine needed a school trained medical illustrator to handle increased faculty requests for surgical and anatomical line drawings, for journal articles and book publication. After several unsuccessful short-term failures to find a medical illustrator he hired Craig Gosling in 1965. Gosling was a recent graduate from the University of Illinois School of Biomedical Illustration. The Illinois school was founded by Tom Jones, one of the original graduates of the Johns Hopkins school of Medical Illustration. Gosling’s addition brought much needed modernization to the department.

Photography – By 1967 the department had grown from a one-man operation to nine, including four Glore trained medical photographers, two graphic artists and one medical illustrator. Initially the department was noted for its specimen photography in support of the Department of Pathology and for documenting laboratory research in the medical sciences. Pre-op and post-op patient surgery as well as surgical photography was a valuable routine service. A photomicroscopy service was heavily utilized by varied departments. Running water continually flowed in four busy darkrooms and photographers traveled all over the campus. Gosling was immediately inundated with faculty requests for illustrations for medical journal publication, medical meetings, and exhibits.

 Change of Leadership and Growth

In 1972 James Glore retired and Gosling succeeded him as Director. As the School and Medical Center grew so did the department, eventually growing to fifteen including, three school trained medical illustrators and four professional medical photographers, five graphic artists, a medical sculptor, and support staff. Computer technology was making its first appearance in the department in spite of limited funds.

 Teaching Simulators

Back in 1967, at Gosling’s initiative, the School’s growth and increasing commitment to medical education gave a rebirth to an old but effective method of teaching the growing numbers of medical students, interns and residents. Specialties such as Urology, Surgery, Ob-Gyn, Orthopedics, and Pediatrics required “hands on” examination experiences for literally thousands of students without unduly discomforting and endangering patients in clinic examination rooms. Initially the Departments of Surgery and Ob/Gyn requested life size, realistic breast examination simulators and pelvic exam stimulators so students could practice psychomotor skills prior to actual patient examination. These first requests were successfully met and thereafter over fifty other functional and realistic patient simulators and anatomical models were successfully designed, fabricated and used in the teaching program. The efficacy of patient simulators was recognized by other specialties. The Department of Pediatrics needed simulators to teach radial and temporal artery puncture, umbilical catheterization, and endoscopy procedures. Orthopedics required fracture reduction simulators, hip, shoulder, and knee subluxation simulators. Urology required catheterization simulators, prostate examination simulators, and testicular examination simulators. Surgery needed hernia examination simulators. As simulators were designed by Gosling, they found their way to wide spread use in medical and nursing schools, and in hospitals worldwide. The department added to its national reputation by offering this unique service.

 Aesthetic Art

In conjunction with the simulators, the department offered another unique service to the school, fine art sculpture. This included bronze busts and bas-reliefs of notable faculty, deans, chairpersons, and benefactors of the School. These bronzes and plaques can be found all over the campus, and Indianapolis.

In 1968, a special esthetic art and sculpture course for plastic surgery residents was initiated and continues to this day. It was the first course of its kind in the nation. It gave plastic surgery residents a needed study of facial proportions, aesthetic beauty, basic drawing, and molding and casting. In 1996 Gosling hired an Assistant Director/medical illustrator, Thomas Weinzerl, also a graduate from the University of Illinois program.

 New Direction

Upon Gosling’s retirement in 2001, the Department absorbed elements of the dissolved Medical Educational Resources Program, MERP, and was renamed the Department of Visual Media in keeping with its expanded responsibilities in digital film production. Weinzerl headed the department and successfully managed it through campus wide belt tightening, reorganization, and changing faculty needs. Weinzerl completed what Gosling had started by ushering in computer-age technologies such as animation and 3-D modeling. Currently, illustrators and graphic artists have all but given up their drawing boards and photographers their darkrooms for computer/digital technology. Weinzerl and his creative staff of illustrators, graphic artists, photographers, and audio-visual specialists excel in a state of the art service to faculty and staff, keeping pace with the rapid evolution of technology. The Department of Visual Media continues to provide supportive service to the School of Medicine and continues to be among the most comprehensive and long enduring service departments in the nation.

 New medical faculty, nursing and medical staff, and visitors are invited to tour the department and utilize its services. Contact: Thomas Weinzerl 274-7478. 


About cgosling

I am a retired medical/scientific illustrator and creator of patient teaching simulators, who has given up illustration to write about science, superstition, and secular humanism. I consider myself all of the following: atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, freethinker, skeptic, and nature lover. I have several published books but the mass of my writing is unpublished. I write children's fiction, poetry, essays, and several plays and radio theater shows, that are available as free downloads to be used on secular podcasts and meetings. They can be heard on Indy Freethought Radio or on YouTube “secularradiotheater”. I hope some of my writings will be of interest to like minded freethinkers who I cordially invite to respond. I am also a Darwin impersonator. I invite readers to listen to and use the Darwin script for secular purposes.
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