Journey to the Centre of the cell (JTCC): A 3D VR experience derived from migratory breast cancer cell image data

John McGhee, Benjamin Bailey, Robert G Parton, Nicholas Ariotti, Angus Johnston

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Journey to the Centre of the Cell (JTCC) is a multi-disciplinary initiative exploring the visualisation of nanotechnology. This particular VR research work demonstrates how Virtual Reality (VR) on HTC Vive head mounted display (HMD) can be used as a platform to interact with cell structures in a compelling immersive experience. Contemporary scientific cellular imaging modalities such as Fluorescence Microscopy and Serial Block Face Scanning Electron Microscopy can capture detailed cross-sectional image slices of molecular structures. The subsequent post-processed 3D data visualisation can provide additional educational insight for lay users. For the artist-researcher, this potential to educate raises valuable questions for further investigation, such as what 3D visualisation narrative should we adopt? In research work being carried out at the 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab (VAL) at UNSW Australia, arts-led modes of data augmentation are being developed to widen access to lay users, such as undergraduate science students. The prototype VR experience allows users to see nanoparticle cellular interactions on the surface of the cell as they enter the internal structure. The immersive visual work is a hybrid of ISO surface data and 3D arts-based representation. The prototype illustrates three cellular processes for nanoparticle internalisation: caveolar, macropinocytic and clathrin-mediated. This work builds on previous visualisation work carried out in the 3D-VAL using clinical imaging data in VR [1][2] for patient communication. 1. Caveolae are 60-80 nm wide pits in the plasma membrane that play a role in endocytosis. 2. Macropinocytosis is an actin-dependent endocytic process that leads to non-selective internalisation of fluid and membrane into large vacuoles (known as macropinosomes). 3. Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is initiated by the binding of a ligand to a membrane receptor.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceeding SA 2016 - SIGGRAPH ASIA 2016 VR Showcase
EditorsEric Liu, Juan Miguel de Joya
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
ISBN (Electronic)9781450345422
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2016
Event2016 SIGGRAPH ASIA VR Showcase, SA 2016 - Macau, China
Duration: 5 Dec 20168 Dec 2016


Conference2016 SIGGRAPH ASIA VR Showcase, SA 2016


  • Interaction design
  • Interface design
  • Medical imaging
  • Microscopy
  • Science education and communication
  • Serious gaming
  • Virtual reality
  • Visualisation

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