Glen Oomen Illustration

About

biography

 That's me with M.Sc #2 in hand from Ireland's National College of Art & Design, University College Dublin.

That's me with M.Sc #2 in hand from Ireland's National College of Art & Design, University College Dublin.

Hello and welcome. I'm an illustrator and designer specializing in healthcare and science. This site features my illustrative work. Check back soon to see some of the medical devices, systems and projects I'm working on. In the meantime, here's my story...

Good at art but with a degree in Biology, I originally trained as a medical illustrator and animator at the University of Toronto in Biomedical Communications. After three years as a freelance medical illustrator/animator, I accidentally landed at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, working in the Education Program in Anatomy. I was tasked with managing parts of the Anatomy labs and developing new learning resources. Almost ten years and a little over $2M in renovations later we had completely changed the anatomy facilities. We built a surgical skills lab and overhauled how we teach human anatomy and how students access it, even building two additional labs off-site at our satellite campuses. I knew we had done something right with all these changes when I noticed some students studying in the lab, which is pretty normal. But when I noticed them they weren't actually studying anatomy. They were working on a group project for another health sciences course. The lab had become so comfortable for students to be in that they weren't just studying anatomy, they were working on all sorts of stuff. We really considered that an unexpected win considering just two years before students wouldn't even enter the lab unless they absolutely had to. During that period I designed and taught both an inter-professional gross anatomy dissection course, and an introductory scientific/medical illustration course; wrote and self-published one book on ultrasound anatomy; designed the labs signage; and a completely new lab manual that balanced the requirements of distributed electronic learning - videos and interactive bits - with good old-fashioned paper. For that work I was a co-recipient of the McMaster University President's Medal for outstanding service (I'm absent in the pic as I was on academic leave). And each Halloween we hosted an incredible annual pumpkin carving contest right in the lab. That's a lot, but alas my feet began to itch...

The Anatomy facilities at McMaster University are used by more than 2300 students per year and 10 different user groups. A decade ago students barely came through the door, now they study and do group work in the lab even if they're not working on anatomy. That's a win. This map was developed for the entrance to the lab, which is spread across several rooms. Each anatomical section was colour-coded and had a unique icon created specifically for it. In addition, scanning the QR code brought up a lab search function so that students looking for certain pathology specimens could easily locate them.

Having developed a nice reputation in Health Sciences for being a creative and capable problem solver I started to get visits from local surgeons and specialists, each asking a similar question: "How can I develop this idea I have for a... [insert invention, new system or technique]?" The challenges were fascinating ones: totally doable if we could figure out a few aspects of them. But they were also equally frustrating. I saw the potential of the ideas, really wanted to help solve these problems, but knew almost nothing about developing new medical devices. So I decided to learn.

I took a year of academic leave, moved to Dublin and did a second M.Sc in Medical Device Design at Ireland's National College of Art of Design (NCAD), University College Dublin. All course work leveraged Ireland's ambitious and busy medical device industry with design projects for Hollister, Cook, Stryker, St. James' Hospital, Rockfield, UCD and Arc Devices.  It was great: human factors, design thinking and research methodology, CAD work, shop-work, biomechanics, biosensing. The art and graphics skills I already possessed, plus all those years working and teaching in human anatomy are now complemented by new skills in design to make some real magic happen. I might just be the only person in the world with this combination of art, medicine and engineering skills.

Currently I do freelance illustration and I work for a small Irish medical device company as a Design & Development Engineer. We're developing clever little devices for economically and safely delivering anaesthetic to patients in ICU. I have a couple of patents with them too. I currently live in Dundas, Ontario, Canada.

Click here for a recent CV. I also don't mind mentioning that, as of this writing, I'm learning to kiteboard.