Anatomy Connected 2024 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Drew Berry - Transforming Science into Visual Narratives

Anatomy Now - January 29, 2024

Dr. Drew Berry is a pioneering biomedical animator who has spent 27 years at Australia's foremost biomedical research institute. His primary role involves translating complex scientific data into captivating and approachable visual stories through animation. His work extends across various platforms, including museums, science centers, television, documentaries, and YouTube, making intricate scientific discoveries accessible to diverse audiences, “I'm translating hardcore molecular biology and scientific discovery into a format that is accessible to lots of different audiences.”

Growing up during the era of personal computers, Dr. Berry’s fascination with computer graphics, inspired by games like Pitfall and Shadow of the Beast, fueled his early interest in visual storytelling. Initially aspiring to be a marine scientist, he found his path redirected toward cell biology while attending university. Drawn to the captivating world of cell biology and its structures, he soon combined his scientific knowledge with his passion for computer graphics and animation.

His journey into biomedical animation began when he joined the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Initially hired as a Photoshop expert, Dr. Berry’s interest in computer graphics led him to create animations showcasing the complex biology of malaria parasites, which gained recognition on television in the 1990s. Since then, he has been actively producing high-resolution animations, collaborating on projects worldwide, aiming to educate and engage audiences about molecular biology.

Dr. Berry emphasized the convergence of science and art in his work. He believes both are tools for storytelling and understanding the world. His animations bridge the gap between hardcore molecular biology and visual representation. Through color and sound in his animations, he strategically guides viewer attention, conveys emotions, and enhances storytelling to evoke engagement and understanding, “I use color to draw tension and to craft where I want you to look, and to give you a context of where you are.  It's a storytelling device and also gives you a sense of emotion. If you look face to face with a cancer cell, I want you to feel disgust and horror. If, you know it's in a molecular world, I want you to get a sense of what it would be like.”

While specializing in molecular biology, Dr. Berry's creativity extends beyond his primary field. He's ventured into animating DNA profiles for documentaries, including those of James Watson and celebrities like Keanu Reeves. His diverse experience showcases the playful side of presenting scientific data, aiming for engagement and enjoyment without compromising scientific accuracy.

Approaching his keynote speech at the Anatomy Connected '24 conference in Toronto, Dr. Berry plans to delve into the challenges of creating biomedical animations. He aims to spotlight the intricate world of molecular structures and how their forms define their functions. Understanding the scale and interactions within this microscopic realm, he seeks to provide insight into visualizing the complex molecular world, connecting it to the broader field of anatomy.

Ultimately, Dr. Drew Berry's career embodies the fusion of science and artistry, creating a captivating narrative that not only educates but also inspires curiosity about the intricacies of the molecular world. His journey from early fascination with computer games to becoming a pioneer in scientific visualization stands as a testament to the power of creativity in science communication. At the Anatomy Connected '24 conference, attendees can expect to witness the brilliance of Dr. Berry's visionary approach to visualizing anatomy, offering a glimpse into the intricate beauty hidden within the microscopic realm.

If you’d like to see Dr. Berry’s incredible work in visualizing molecular biology, visit the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research YouTube Page and download their augmented reality app.