Friday, April 29, 2011

Josh Tan: Bridging the Gap Between Imaging Technology and Researches & Clinicians

Recently I caught up with Josh Tan to find out a little more about his work at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Josh’s title is Imaging Informatics Administrator, which might not mean much to some of us, but his work is very important for patients being treated for just about any disease that a patient might be treated for at the hospital. See what Josh does is help researchers and physicians use a combination of imaging technologies to diagnose and plan for the treatment of diseases ranging from heart disease to gunshot wounds. Josh’s work is effectively bridging the gap between the researcher and clinician and the imaging technology in his labs.

Josh uses a broad range of imaging tools that are all dedicated to research. They range from CT, MRI, to PET. The images are used to look at patients as if they had been dissected like a spiral cut ham. (Nice image, I know.) It creates a huge amount of data with 150 images per second and each image taking up more than ½ megabyte. Storage is an issue for sure, but rendering is an even bigger issue. Josh is using bleeding edge technology from TeraRecon, Inc. where each system can have 4 video boards and 16GB of memory per board. If this doesn’t mean anything to you, your average computer these days might have a single board with 1GB of memory.

So, enough with the geek speak. Josh helps clinicians and researchers use all of this power to perform a broad range of studies such as car crashes (how the car did or didn’t protect the driver) to gunshot wound trajectories to measuring blood flow through the brain for the study of dyslexics and strokes.

Another technology Josh is helping to bring to the clinic and research lab is 3D printing. Josh can take images taken from a patient and in a few hours use a 3D printer to recreate an injury or disease state which allows better planning for treatment. He can also do real time animation using the same tools that the makers of Shrek and Avatar used. These tools have been instrumental in the research and breakthroughs that Dr. Atala is well known for here in Winston-Salem.

Read more about the Center for Biomolecular Imaging at

As part of this new series for Winston TECH Salem, we’re asking 10 questions. Here’s what Josh had to say:

1. Where were you born?

Born in Chicago, Illinois. Lived all over.

2. What did you study and where?

Computer Science, UNC, Asheville
Masters in Computer Science, WSSU

3. What was your first job?

Built computers for a computer wholesaler in Greensboro

4. What areas have you worked in?

Computer Hardware
Computer Networking
3D Imaging

5. Tell us about your family?

Josh is an American Born of Chinese parents who are from Singapore.
He's married to to Thanh Tan who moved to the US as a child from Vietnam with her family.
He has 2 brothers: 1 married to Japanese Woman from Japan; 1 married to Scottish-Irish Woman from Maryland

6. What are your hobbies and Interests?

Photography, Music, Sports

7. Personal or Professional goals for the future?

To be an entrepreneur, maybe the next Steve Jobs!

8. Favorite place to vacation?

Singapore (been back 3 times)

9. Who or what inspires you?

Outside the box thinkers

10. If you were to host a dinner party which 5 people living or dead, who would you invite?

Albert Einstein
Mother Teresa
Dhali Lama
George Washington
Adam Sandler

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Microsoft "Experience Tour:" Latest in Cloud, Mobile, Collaboration & Reporting

The Microsoft “Experience Tour” is coming to Winston-Salem on May 3, 8:00am - 12:00pm. The event will feature new integrated “cloud based” tools beneficial for small business users including live, in-depth demonstrations of Microsoft Office 365 Suite, Business Intelligence with SharePoint and Excel, Cloud-based Customer Relationship Management, and Enterprise infrastructure management. Read more and register.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Center for Design Innovation's Idea Exchange Examine Significance of Illustrations

Sometimes centuries old artforms such as drawings can be timeless when combined with new technologies. Actually, it’s happening quite often in today’s fast emerging creative business and technology scene.

Last night three illustrators presented passionate and convincing cases for the importance of imagery at the Center for Design Innovation’s Ideal Exchange discussion on how mind, eye, hand and computer techniques combine to produce powerful illustrations. The artists produce computer-assisted drawings to communicate volumes about the complexities of life, the human body, technology functions and more.

Why do we still need illustration compared to photography? The artists took separate approaches to demonstrate the differences through power point slides, drawings and personal stories. The presenters were: Jennifer Gentry, Jennifer McCormick and Kyle Webster.

Gentry, is a certified medical illustrator and founder of Gentry Visualization (, a studio specializing in the visual communication of medical, scientific, and technical concepts. Her complex anatomy illustrations are featured in medical journals textbooks and posters. She is also a lecturer at Wake Forest University.

McCormick, ( also a medical illustrator, is owner and founder of Art for Law & Medicine, a company that produces custom medical illustrations of injuries for complex litigation. Her CSI-like artworks peer inside the human body similar to MRIs, CAT scans and x-rays exposing the dramatic stories and critical information about injuries and how they may have occurred.

Webster, owner of Kyle T. Webster (, has produced editorial illustrations that have graced the New Yorker, The Washington Post, USA Today, ESPN Magazine, Time Magazine, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, The Wall Street Journal and many other major publications in the United States.

While each artist has a different specialty, all agree that illustrations are very effective in communicating complex opinions, issues and functions in a concise and impactful way. This is quite helpful for many people who are too busy to read abstracts and book chapters.

Whether appearing in a magazine, textbook or courtroom exhibit, their works clearly demonstrate that in this time of hi-definition computer animation, there is still room for old fashioned drawings enhanced by technology to effectively communicate emotions, business models, concepts or opinions in one glance. Such illustrations are useful for an array of applications from smartphone apps to ads that present business services similar to the well-known UPS ads featuring an artist producing fast-pace drawings to explain how its business services are successful.

As technology continues to advance, it appears that illustrations will still be in demand, enhancing the communications for the need, use, findings and implications of new technology.

Earlier this year CDI officials announced acquisition of land to construct a 30,000 square foot building in the South District of the Piedmont Triad Research Park. The facility will serve as the permanent home for the CDI and its dedication to discovering, inventing and developing new knowledge.

The CDI was established in 2005 as a multi-campus research center of the UNC system with an Advisory Board appointed by the Office of the President of UNC. Its mission is to create an environment that supports creative thinking as a means of fostering the growth of education, research and commercial enterprise.

The CDI began initial operations in 2007 at an interim site in Winston Tower and represents an inter-institutional partnership between Winston-Salem State University, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Forsyth Technical Community College. On a project basis, collaborations also include a range of individuals and organizations involved in supporting the Center’s interdisciplinary agenda.

For more information, visit:

Wake Forest to Use WebEx Solutions

Wake Forest and Cisco are working together to transform the way students, faculty, and staff members interact with each other and with collaborators around the world. Wake Forest will be the first university in the world to unite every member of the extended campus community with a site-wide license for Cisco WebEx Meeting Center.

“There is a network-effect with Collaboration—the more people that adopt a common platform when they communicate and collaborate, the greater the impact. Wake Forest has demonstrated real innovation when rethinking the education model,” said Carl Wiese, vice president, Global Collaboration Sales at Cisco. “By adopting a leading-edge technology solution that is standard across the entire campus, they’re not only simplifying the implementation of that solution, but they’re also enhancing the experience for their educators, students and administration staff.” Read more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Next Generation eBook Evolves at Wake Forest

Biology 101 and other introductory college science courses can be a significant barrier to overall college success. This well-documented finding led A. Daniel Johnson, a senior lecturer in biology, and Jed Macosko, an associate professor of physics, to search for a new way to help their Wake Forest University students learn about genetics, ecology and evolution.

“Biology textbooks, and science textbooks in general, are full of dense language, excessive content and a rigid format that discourages learning,” said Johnson. “Current electronic textbooks are no better than their print counterparts.”

What started as an idea for an iPad application evolved into a more accessible tool for the next generation of electronic textbooks, which Johnson and Macosko call “BioBook.” Read more.

Attend CDI's Idea Exchange Tonight

Mark your calendar to attend to the Center for Design Innovation’s (CDI) final Idea Exchange for the season from 5:30 until 7 p.m., tonight, April 19, on the 21st floor of Winston Tower.

Free and open to the public, Idea Exchange is an open forum on anything related to creative processes, digital techniques, business strategies and other interests related to developing the knowledge economy of North Carolina's Piedmont region and beyond.

The subject for this Idea Exchange is: "The Interpretive and Communicative Power of Illustration."

Bring your thoughts or just listen. CDI's goal is to influence the economic transformation of the Piedmont Triad region through design-focused activity based on advanced digital technologies.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Device can heat home, save money

A new polymer-based solar-thermal device is the first to generate power from both heat and visible sunlight – an advance that could shave the cost of heating a home by as much as 40 percent, according to research done at Wake Forest. Read more.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Another Earth at Riverrun Film Festival

Riverrun International Film Festival has an added film, Another Earth, that combines the "what if" draw of science fiction with the drama of human emotion and character development in a narrative feature film by director Mike Cahill. In this film, art and science intersect with Rhoda Williams an astrophysicist from MIT and John Burroughs a brilliant music composer finding their lives accidentally and sadly intertwined. The discovery of an Earth 2 and the chance to travel there offers movie viewers a glimpse into the possibilities of the future. See the trailer for more.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Very Visual Scientist

The Center for Design Innovation (CDI) in Winston-Salem looks more like a design studio than an academic research lab. Nick Hristov, who studies bats and specializes in motion-capture technology, is CDI's first design researcher. He is also a tenure-track professor in life sciences at Winston-Salem State University. At CDI, the work is varied: there's Hristov's research on bats, there's physical and occupational therapy research, and there's even a project that encourages cycling. All CDI projects include some mix of teaching, research, and engagement with the local community, and Hristov is involved with most of them. "It's difficult to respond and be engaged in all these different elements and to maintain the quality of your own independent work," Hristov says. But with these challenges come rewards: specifically, the opportunity to marry his scientific research and his lifelong interest in photography and imaging technology in a single, joint academic appointment. It wasn't a position that he could have prepared for, he says, but when the opportunity appeared, "I saw that it was what I'd been dreaming of all along." Read more.

Cobblestone Farmers Market Opens in Piedmont Triad Research Park

The Cobblestone Farmers Market (formerly Krankies Farmers Market) will open for its third season on Tuesday, April 19, at 10:00 a.m. The market is an all-local, producers-only venue that selects vendors on the basis of their healthy, sustainable, and humane practices. The market is held on the cobblestone area near the intersection of Third Street and Patterson Avenue in downtown Winston-Salem every Tuesday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm from April 19 through November 29. Learn more.

Downtown Appreciation Days are: April 19, July 12, August 30, and October 18. What does this mean? Anyone who lives or works in downtown Winston-Salem can get in a drawing to win a vintage Krankies Farmers Market Tote Bag, plus to help fill that bag, FIVE market bucks to redeem with any vendor at the Cobblestone Farmers Market.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creative Corridors Community Input Meetings

Creative Corridors is hosting two community input meetings on April 28 and 29. They will show preliminary ideas from Design WorkShop, retained to create concepts for downtown roadway and infrastructure construction projects that will happen in the next few years. Design WorkShop is about 40% finished with its work. Before moving on to the next phase of the project, they are inviting the public for a sneak peek at the initial concepts and to share their comments. You may attend one of the two meetings: Thursday, April 28 at 6 p.m., McNeil Dining Hall in the Anderson Center, Winston-Salem State University, 601 South Martin Luther King Drive; or Friday, April 29 at 1 p.m. in Reynolds Place, Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, 251 North Spruce Street. Learn more.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Neuroscience with Musical Twist is Theme of Symposium

The symposium, “Music and the Brain: From Medical Applications to the Neuroscience of Song,” event will be held Tuesday, April 26, at Wake Forest School of Medicine from noon to 3:30 p.m. in Babcock Auditorium on the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center campus. The event will highlight the intersection between the arts, neuroscience and clinical knowledge. Students from area high schools are expected to attend as well as faculty and students from UNC School of the Arts and Wake Forest University among others. Learn more.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Art of Science Learning

"Stimulate the arts and you stimulate innovation." So says Dr. Bob Root Bernstein, Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University. He cites a study that he has published that shows that almost all Nobel laureates in the sciences are actively engaged in arts as adults. They are twenty-five times as likely as average scientist to sing, dance, or act; seventeen times as likely to be an artist; twelve times more likely to write poetry and literature; eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft; four times as likely to be a musician; and twice as likely to be a photographer.

The correlations between science and art are astounding and Root Bernstein rattles off several more examples on a blog and project aptly called the Art of Science Learning also an NSF-funded exploration of how the arts can strengthen STEM skills and spark creativity in the 21st-Century American workforce.

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone was a pianist whose telephone invention was the output of a musical game. Camouflage was invented by an American painter Abbot Thayer and frequency hopping (the encryption in our cell phones and PDA's ) was invented byt the actress Heddy Lamar and composer George Antheil. The reason we see images on our television, computer screens and cell phone screens is due to a collaboration among painter and scientists such as physicist Ogden Rood and German Nobel laureate Wilhelm Ostwald and post-impressionist artists such as Seurat (the post impressionist artist who painted with those dots of color just like the dots of color that form images on our screens).

The next time my teenagers are stuck on a chemistry or math problem, I may just ask them to practice the viola, listen to their Ipods or doodle a picture.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

River Run Meets Tweet-Up

You never know where technology is going to show up, and this Friday a group of  Twitter loving Triad folks are descending on the opening gala of RiverRun2011, thanks to the efforts of TriadTweetup - dedicated to organizing and promoting gatherings of twitter users in the Triad area of Winston-Salem and Greensboro, NC.

If you are a Twitter user (Tweeple?), follow the hash tags #TriadTribe, and #RiverRun to eavesdrop on the twitter conversation.

Treks in the City™: Winston-Salem

Scene in Winston-Salem (the folks who put on the Downtown Winston-Salem Scavenger Hunt) and Small Footprint, Inc. (a software development services company headquartered in downtown Winston-Salem) have joined forces to build great new iPhone and Android apps focused on Winston-Salem's downtown features. The apps, called Treks in the City™: Winston-Salem, use geo-location to help visitors and locals alike tour Downtown Winston-Salem based on areas of interest such as Architecture, Entertainment, or Scene in Winston-Salem's previous Scavenger Hunts. Users can also share comments and pictures about the locations they discover with the apps. Small Footprint and Scene in Winston-Salem say to expect more features in the apps soon! Learn more about the apps at

Invention to Venture Conference Saturday April 9

How do ideas transcend the "mad scientist"/laboratory phase and make it into the marketplace? Attend the Invention to Venture conference, this Saturday from 9 to 2 p.m. at Wake Forest University to learn how. “The Invention to Venture conference will focus on the nuts and bolts of taking ideas to the marketplace,” says biology professor William Conner who will discuss funding options for faculty and students during the event. The conference is cosponsored by the NCIIA, the National Science Foundation Partner’s in Innovation Program and the Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Researchers Engineer Miniature Human Livers in the Lab

Researchers at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Health have reached an early, but important, milestone in the quest to grow replacement livers in the lab. They are the first to use human liver cells to successfully engineer miniature livers that function – at least in a laboratory setting – like human livers. The next step is to see if the livers will continue to function after transplantation in an animal model. Read more.