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Raising Arizona Kids

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Scan, animate, print: 3D heart models at PCH

Justin Ryan, a graduate research associate at Arizona State University, always had pictured himself in the animation field, maybe creating a new cartoon, video or short film.

But he figured that may take some time after graduation. It’s a competitive field. So his plan, like that of so many graduates who want to work in sought-after fields, was to become a barista while he started job hunting.

ASU graduate student Justin Ryan at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Photo by Daniel Friedman

But nearing graduation, Justin fell into an opportunity to do a different kind of animation.

Now, as part of a graduate program, he constructs three-dimensional pediatric heart models at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in a collaborative program spearheaded by the hospital’s Stephen G. Pophal, M.D., division chief of pediatric cardiology and ASU engineering professor David Frakes, Ph.D.

Frakes, jointly appointed to ASU’s School of Biological and Health Systems and Engineering and the School of Electrical Computer and Energy Engineering, says that Justin has played a key role in the program.

“He’s one of my Ph.D. students, and he has brought a lot of really advanced 3D modeling skills to the table that have allowed us to take it to the next level,” says Frakes. Read more about the process.

Congenital heart defects rank as the number one birth defect in this country. Nearly one of every 100 babies is born with a CHD, according to the Children’s Heart Foundation.

Using engineering technology to improve the lives of young patients and their families has been gratifying, says Frakes. “That’s the best use of technology that I can think of.”

Watch as Justin Ryan describes and shows the procedure for printing three-dimensional heart models at the new Children’s Heart Center for Pediatric Cardiology at Phoenix Children’s Hospital:


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Vicki Louk Balint

Multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint covers health topics for RAISING ARIZONA KIDS magazine.

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