Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly

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By: Contessa Giontsis
Image courtesy of Paul Kelly

Seven years ago, Paul Kelly graduated from the Masters of Science in Biomedical Communications (MScBMC) program, at the University of Toronto. His studies have ended, but his involvement in BMC and IMS continue. He is currently a member of the BMC Alumni Association, and a strong advocate for the BMC program. “I always sell the Toronto program to anybody who asks”, he says. “They really do have a uniqueness amongst the other programs.” According to Kelly, not only does BMC have a diversity of skill sets and tools, but the professors are incredibly talented and modest with an “impressive non-stop commitment to learning.”

Currently, Kelly is applying his 3D visualization and communication skills at The Toronto Video Atlas of Surgery (TVASurg). This team creates surgical educational videos that show proper surgical technique. Patient CT and MRI scans are used to build 3D reconstructions of gross anatomy, which are then compiled in a 3D animation. Despite the iterative design phase, Kelly enjoys every aspect of his work and has high hopes for the future. “Our goal is to expand the atlas from abdominal procedures to the entire human body.” Having recently collaborated with OB/GYN surgeons from St. Michael’s Hostpial, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, TVASurg is determined to achieve its goal and influence future surgical training.

However, getting this far in his career was not easy. Surprisingly, Kelly struggled with surgical illustration in his first year at BMC. Having to repeatedly go back to the drawing board was a “shock to the system” he recalls. Unsatisfied with his performance, Kelly decided to take the advanced surgical illustration course in his second year and master this challenge. His determination paid off. Not only did he create a beautiful series of surgical illustrations, Kelly also learned how to handle setbacks: “I think it comes to a personal decision to say, ‘I am not going to take this as an indication that I am inept, but that I am in an environment where I have the best possible chance to improve.’ ”

Kelly’s advice to IMS students is simple: “Find what you are passionate about”. He believes that sharing his passion and getting others to express theirs is important in maintaining a high level of excitement and productivity in research and in helping students find what it is that inspires them. In return, the IMS has provided Kelly with something invaluable—a sense of community. “IMS has given me this connection to people who share similar ideas, thoughts, feelings and that is a great feeling.”

Kelly strongly believes that BMC can help the IMS achieve its primary goal which is to help clinicians engage in excellent, cutting edge research. “There will always be a benefit for researchers to work with BMC grads to create visual assets,” he says, “because the world is more visual in the way people receive information.” If visuals can help researchers get the attention of the public or policy makers, it can take translational research to a new level.

50 years from now, Kelly is excited to see the IMS integrating with other disciplines: “It’s inevitable that there will be more interaction and more collaboration between different departments.” Kelly dreams of students in bioengineering, BMC, and medicine all working together on collaborative projects. “In my opinion, we could push research and translational research much further if we have multiple minds working together.” Considering how much the IMS has accomplished in their first 50 years of existence, one can only image what the IMS can achieve over the next 50 years.