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Visualizing medical data: The da Vinci touch

What would Leonardo da Vinci devote his energy to if he were alive today? I am pretty sure that he would be at a hospital. He would take advantage of data of all types — genetic, vital signs, symptoms — all streaming from patients like notes on sheet music, to seek a better understanding of the human person. And likely he would present this information in a way that appeals to the senses, drawing us to examine the information landscape and revealing the action steps we need to take to improve human health.

da Vinci’s sketch book drawings investigated human physiology to the extent that was possible in his time. da Vincis of our day, with more sophisticated tools, are poised to understand the human body at a new level. I can imagine Leonardo delighting at the level of granularity offered by our technology — the sequencing of the genetic code, for example. He would want to make sense of this information. I imagine that he’d be studying informatics and techniques for graphic visualization of data to support his quest to portray human physiology.

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