Research spotlight: Cal Hisley

Cal Hisley
Cal Hisley, Ph.D.

Dr. Cal Hisley came to DMU in the 2007 fall semester to teach gross anatomy and neuroanatomy and augment the current curriculum with medical imaging-related training electives. His primary contributions to DMU are 1) the development and communication of digital knowledge engineering methods and projects related to medical education, and 2) his introduction of rigorous radiology/medical imaging courses to the curriculum.

Within six months of his arrival, Dr. Hisley, in collaboration with Dr. Ted Rooney, initiated a strong collaboration with Dr. William Young, chair of radiology at Mercy Medical Center. This resulted in the first direct online link between a DMU department and Mercy Radiology for the transfer of anonymized patient radiological imaging sets as an important anatomical education resource. Concurrently, Dr. Hisley worked with Dr. Young in the planning of several clinical fMRI research projects involving collaborations with additional Mercy clinicians, including stroke recovery assessment with Dr. M. Jacoby, neurology, and improved radiation treatment planning procedures with Dr. R. Deming, radiation oncology.

During Dr. Hisley’s first year at DMU, he applied object-oriented multimedia relational database design methods to the prototyping of two innovative educational tools: an online digital anatomical dissector and an innovative digital auscultation simulator to be used in the DMU simulation laboratory. The initial results from these projects became the basis for research and collaboration with Drs. James Oliver and Eliot Winer of the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC), College of Engineering, Iowa State University. Both projects represent key innovations. The dissector introduced real-time student progress tracking and multimedia self-assessment exercises to course execution in the dissection laboratory. The auscultation simulator project, undertaken with Dr. Roberta Wattleworth, DMU’s chair of family medicine, and Dr. Vassilios Vardaxis, professor of physical therapy, introduced the concept of real-time spatial coordination of the stethoscope to both position-specific diagnostic sounds and corresponding views of 3D CT-based volumetric models.

Both projects will use these digital tools to collect research data on student and clinician behavior as well as to enhance the DMU educational experience. Publication of both of these systems in peer-reviewed journals is anticipated.

Dr. Hisley also published a paper titled “Coupled Physical and Digital Cadaver Dissection Followed by a Visual Test Protocol Provides Insights Into the Nature of Anatomical Knowledge and Its Evaluation,” which laid the foundation for a new type of anatomical assessment procedure using 3D anatomical models and featuring anatomical volumes sliced and presented in different viewpoints.

During Dr. Hisley’s second and third years, he designed and delivered two successful courses, one an elective, Introduction to Clinical Imaging, and the other, Exploration of Gross Anatomy Using Medical Imaging, a required seminar in DMU’s master of science in anatomy program. Both courses provided systematic training in the application of medical imaging techniques to gross anatomy in preparation for clinical radiology experiences expected in the third- and fourth-year rotations.

During this time, Dr. Hisley’s summer research program students, working with Dr. Brad Klock and the DMU osteopathic manual medicine department, created the first precise 3D digital models of the fascia of the thigh and developed a precise anatomical nomenclature. These results, presented in the SRP Symposium as a poster, are being used in a paper for submission to the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. While awaiting required fMRI equipment at Mercy Medical, Dr. Hisley initiated an additional productive fMRI-based collaboration with Mercy neurosurgeons Drs. Chris Karas and Mirza Baig, investigating the application of cortical activation and white matter tractography for improved resection of gliomas during both the planning stages and at surgery.

Finally, during this past year, Dr. Hisley has worked closely with DMU’s chief information officer, Wayne Bowker, in planning operational computer database programming functions specifically supporting academic teaching functions across the four years of our curriculum.

Dr. Hisley will become an associate professor in Touro University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in California in December 2010. He will maintain all collaborative relationships possible with DMU to continue the investigation into the applications of technology to medical education.

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