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             This project aims to educate the medical community on the relationship between the microbiome and breast cancer through animation. A link between the microbiome and cancer prompted groundbreaking research to improve our understanding of this relationship and how it affects treatment approaches. Studies have shown that one key connection between the microbiome and cancer is dysbiosis, an overwhelming abundance of harmful bacteria. This leads to chronic inflammation, inflammatory bowl disease, and metastasis. Subsequent research has shown that the unique bacterial composition of the mammary biome has a measurable difference between healthy mammary tissue and cancerous tissue. This is being investigated as a potential biomarker for diagnosis and staging cancer. Research has also found that the gastrointestinal microbiome plays a role in breast cancer metastases in both composition variation and functional factors. This includes inflammation-related mechanism for breast cancer, genomic instability due to the increase of DNA damaging microbes, and the metabolic pathway influencing estrogen levels. 

          This project will serve as a supplement to grant submissions to the NIH and other organizations to help attract funding for further research, specifically in how the composition of the microbiome affects the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer patients. The animation focus on the complex interplay between breast cancer and the microbiome, engaging both students and researchers in oncology by bringing molecular and cellular research to life. The overall goal of the animation is to inspire and educate viewers with the potential that this research has to improve early detection and treatment of breast cancer. It is novel because it approaches a subject that is actively being explored.


          As a new area of cancer research, this topic has yet to be visually depicted. Thus, no visual resources exist to teach this topic to medical students, and it is not included in the medical student curriculum. This is a problem as it neglects an entire field of potential research for medical students that might be interested. Creating an animation addressing this subject will support medical research, and provide much needed resources to help teach medical students and the scientific community about this expanding field of cancer research.


            It was important to accurately described the different key bacteria in this microbial relationship, including both scaling and morphology. We started in the lab looking at different patient samples, including blood, liver abscess, and spinal fluid. Text such as the “Color Atlas of Medical Bacteriology” were referenced for blood agar swabs and electromicroscopic imagery. These were used to create the style of the modeled bacteria. 

           The script was then drafted based on the work of Dr. Mehran, research in the field, and the expertise of Dr. McMullen. A storyboard of 2D illustrations were created using images derived from cultures viewed in the lab of Dr. McMullen to accurately describe the dynamics and visuals of the bacteria highlighted in the piece. The models were built from this base in Zbrush and brought into Cinema 4D for animating and materials.  Arnold Render was used for material and environment building and X Particles was used to create growth effects. The completed version was then finalized and edited in After Effects. This project uses an animation platform to describe the connection between the microbiome and breast cancer. 

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