Revolutionizing Medicine

Revolutionizing Medicine

Christopher Williams, PhD (pictured above), medical physicist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explores a 3-D rendering of a patient, created from an MRI scan.

Before his eyes, a 3-D rendering of a patient, created from a recent MRI scan, forms in front of a galactic backdrop. Holding a sleek wireless controller in each hand, Williams manipulates the rendering with ease, rotating it and zooming in to study the brain’s anatomy.

Moving the controller in the air, Williams precisely contours the brain tumor’s location as his colleague and collaborator, Konstantin Kovtun, MD, a radiation oncologist, watches on a computer screen. While studying this 3-D patient rendering in virtual reality (VR), they discuss the next steps for the patient’s treatment and develop a radiation plan.


“The way clinicians and surgeons currently view 3-D imaging data diminishes its precision and context. Virtual reality technology can offer huge advantages for seeing and manipulating 3-D medical images.” —Christopher Williams, PhD


Williams and Kovtun are trying to revolutionize the world of imaging. While today’s state-of-the-art MRI and other digital imaging tools create remarkable 3-D images, computer monitors cannot display in 3-D. But with Williams and Kovtun’s new application of VR technology, scans can be viewed in their original 3-D format.

“With this system, a surgeon can look at the 3-D image of all the vessels in the area of an aneurysm, rotate it in six directions, and zoom in and out. Being able to map your surgical approach more precisely, based on each patient’s anatomy, could be really powerful.”

This article was originally featured in the 2018 Honor Roll, which celebrates donors to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. Check out more profiles of patients, clinicians, and researchers that illustrate the power of transformative philanthropy at the Brigham.