Researchers taking real 'Fantastic Voyage' through human body

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Traveling around the human body to get a look at its many secrets is not just science fiction anymore, though granted nobody is shrinking themselves and scooting around in a little submarine. Yet, through the use of state-of-the-art virtual imaging technology, researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have created images of the body at a scale never-before-seen.

A student team, under the guide of Richard Doolittle, RIT's director of the department of medical sciences, and Paul Craig, professor of chemistry, has created astounding images of the pancreas, detailed pictures of the human skull and DNA-level images of protein molecules.

The group's findings were presented recently in a virtual tour called '3D Visualization in Science, from molecules to cells to organs.' The presentation was the culmination of a dual summer research project by Doolittle and Craig, including students from the College of Science and College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. Funding for the project came from a RIT Provost Learning and Innovation Grant and the students were able to conduct some of their research at Brookhaven National Lab through additional funds provided by the National Science Foundation.

"We are now able to create virtual images of the human body at the microscopic level," said Doolittle in a release. "These images have never been produced before and will help us better understand human development while also having tremendous implications for the diagnosis and treatment of numerous diseases."

The imaging process that has resulted from the research is planned for eventual use used by RIT researchers and teachers to provide better insight into how to image and understand disease states at the microscopic level, bone development, and how proteins bond with other molecules. In the future, the team plans to expand their research to other organs including the liver and brain.