David Bolinsky: Visualizing the amazing world of molecular anatomy

With his colorful scientific animations, David Bolinsky takes us on a fantastic journey through the bustling activity that is constantly going on inside the cells of our own bodies.

“No matter how lazy you feel, you’re never really just doing nothing,” says David Bolinsky in one of his acclaimed TED-talks where he shows parts of the computer animated movie Inner life of the cell, which illustrates the molecular mechanisms that occur when a white blood cell in the blood vessels is activated by inflammation.

Give students a mental image
The film, and its two sequels, was made in cooperation with Harvard University as a way of giving its medical and scientific students a mental image to which they could attach their gained theoretical knowledge. Though only 8.5 minutes long, it took 14 months to make and even though it is based on science to make it truthful it is also deliberately made with a cinematic, as opposed to an academic, feel, that would be able to bring the beauty of science to a wider audience.

“What we wanted to do was to put everything together visually so that the students would have an internalized view of what a cell really is and to be able to study with this view in mind so that their imaginations and passions would be sparked and so that they would be able to go on and use these visions in their head to make new discoveries and to be able to find out how life really works.”

Inspired by his father, who was a sculptor and art historian, and the legendary medical illustrator Frank Netter, David Bolinsky got a degree in Medical illustration from Ohio State University in 1974. For some years he was the lead medical illustrator at Yale before founding the world’s first medical animation company, Advanced imaging, Inc, in 1984. In 2001 he co-founded XVIVO Scientific Animation where he co-produced the signature animation Inner life of the cell, followed by two more animations in the same series, Powering the cell: Mitochondria and The inner life of the cell: Protein Packing.

See David Bolinsky at the Nano for Human Health seminar at Chalmers

David Bolinsky also partners with Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University to create interactive apps, that bring complex medical and clinical subjects to life. His partnership with Smart Sparrow, with whom he shares a significant education foundation grant, will reimagine interactive, adaptive science education for American community colleges.

“Students today are often immersed in an environment where what they learn is subjects that have truth and beauty imbedded in them, but the way they are taught is compartmentalized and drawn down to the point where the truth and beauty is not always evident. So we have an opportunity to really open up education and hopefully our animations will be used to discover more truth and more beauty”.

Watch "inner life of the cell" >>

TED Talk by David Bolinsky >>

Page manager Published: Tue 24 Nov 2015.