Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 15

in vivo, in vitro, in silico: Designing the Next in Medicine


Westwood, J.D.,
Haluck, R.S.,
Hoffman, H.M.,
Robb, R.A.,
Mogel, G.T.,
Phillips, R.,
Vosburgh, K.G.

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Our culture is obsessed with design. Sometimes designers can fuse utility and fantasy to make the mundane appear fresh—a cosmetic repackaging of the same old thing. Because of this, medicine—grounded in the unforgiving realities of the scientific method and peer review, and of flesh, blood, and pain—can sometimes confuse “design” with mere “prettifying.” Design solves real problems, however. This collection of papers underwrites the importance of design for the MMVR community, within three different environments: in vivo, in vitro and in silico. in vivo: we design machines to explore our living bodies. Imaging devices, robots, and sensors move constantly inward, operating within smaller dimensions: system, organ, cell, DNA. in vitro: Using test tubes and Petri dishes, we isolate in vivo to better manipulate and measure biological conditions and reactions. in silico: We step out of the controlled in vitro environment and into a virtual reality. The silica mini-worlds of test tubes and Petri dishes are translated into mini-worlds contained within silicon chips. The future of medicine remains within all three environments: in vivo, in vitro, and in silico. Design is what makes these pieces fit together—the biological, the informational, the physical/material—into something new and more useful.

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