Johns Hopkins Magazine -- April 2000
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APRIL 2000


Applying Art to Medicine
Opening photo:
Max Brö, seen teaching medical illustration students in the Hunterian Building in 1917, directed Art as Applied to Medicine from the department's founding, in 1911, until his retirement in 1940. The Hopkins department was the first in the world.
APRIL 2000
Pioneers of Scholarship

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Applying Art to Medicine
By Melissa Hendricks

Though captivating for their intricacy, the main purpose of medical illustrations is to inform rather than to delight. The medical illustrator must be adept with pen and brush and also have an in-depth understanding of anatomy, histology, and pathology. The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine began training illustrators in 1911 through the the School of Medicine's Department of Art as Applied to Medicine. It was the first medical illustration department in the world, and for decades, the majority of credited medical illustrators were taught at Hopkins.

The department's first director, Max Brödel, had emigrated in 1894 from Leipzig, Germany, where he had been an art student. For his first 16 years at Hopkins, Brödel was the personal medical illustrator for chief gynecologist Howard Kelly. When Kelly retired in 1910, Brödel nearly left Hopkins. But through the intervention of Hopkins gynecologist Thomas Cullen and an endowment from Baltimore businessman Henry Walters, the medical school opened the new department and put Brödel in charge.

Now a three-year master's degree program, Art as Applied to Medicine still trains students in anatomy, organ histology, cell biology, and operating room sketching, just as the department did in Brödel's day. But the curriculum today also includes courses on digital imaging and animation; graphics production for websites; video production; and the creation of medical exhibits for courtroom use.

Blood flow in the primate placenta is revealed below, as rendered by Ranic Crosby, who directed the department for 40 years and still serves on the faculty.

Brö's drawing of surgeon Harvey Cushing's transphenoidal approach to the pituitary gland.

In this rendering by Max Brö of a thyroidectomy performed by surgeon William Halsted, the right lobe of the gland has been removed. The insert shows the blood supply to the parathyroid glands.

A drawing by Leon Schlossberg of the first heart transplant performed at Hopkins; his 60-year career included serving as illustrator for the Department of Surgery and faculty member in Art as Applied to Medicine.

Even with new technology such as endoscopic ultrasonography, medical illustration of the same anatomy remains indispensable to surgeons.
Medical illusrations by Michael Linkinhoker