Interactive Health Communication Project


The Brain Biodiversity Bank contains an online human, sheep, dolphin, and axolotl brain atlas.

Brain Biodiversity Bank Atlases


The comparative neuroanatomical collections at The University of Wisconsin (in Madison) and at Michigan State University (in East Lansing) contain over 275 sectioned and stained mammalian whole brains. These specimens were selected for their research and evolutionary significance, and are major, but under-utilized, resources for neuroscientific research and education. They are the largest of their kind in the world prepared by standardized techniques. They contain over half a million sections from over 150 species of mammals in almost as many genera, and include members of 50 families from 17 different orders of mammals.

These collections have not been fully utilized because they have not been available for widespread use. Because of their great scientific importance and extreme value, these fragile, thin section glass slides are like rare books, and cannot be circulated requires that they be used on site, and so, therefore, they have not been studied as widely as they could be. Greater awareness and accessibility are, therefore, major desired outcomes of this project. Our internet websites can serve as scientific prototypes of how to make comparative study of the nervous system more interesting, informative, relevant and readily available to new generations of students and teachers. After viewing these sites, interested browsers can make informed decisions about visiting the collections directly for more detailed study and neuroanatomical measurement. For many purposes, images of brains and brain sections can be downloaded for teaching, public presentations, museum displays, quantitative measurement, and scientific research.


Academic Publications Related to Project

  • Johnson, J., Sudheimer, K., Winn, B. The Online Navigable Atlases of Brains from the Museum Collections. Biennial Conference on Embryology and Imaging Abstracts: in press. 2005.
  • Sudheimer, K., Winn, B., Shoaps, J., Davis, K., Fobbs, A., Johnson, J. 2001 Three-dimensional MRI atlas of the human brain for classroom use. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 27: 855.7.
  • Johnson, J., Sudheimer, K., Davis, K., Osborn, C., Winn, B., Fobbs, A., Humblot, N. 2000 Online atlas of the sheep brain for use in classes in neuroscience. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 26:21.10.
  • Annual Meeting, Society for Neuroscience, Miami Beach, FL October 23 – 28, 1999  ( ABSTRACT PUBLISHED AS: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 25:270, 1999. (Abstract No. 104.55).
  • Society For Integrative And Comparative Biology. 2001 Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL January 3-7  ( ABSTRACT IN PRESS IN: American Zoologist 41: P2.57.
  • Annual Meeting, Society for Neuroscience, New Orleans, LA  November 3-9, 2000  ( ABSTRACT PUBLISHED AS: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, vol. 30, Abstract No. 21.10.
  • Society for Comparative and Integrative Biology 2000 Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA  January 5, 2000. ( ABSTRACT PUBLISHED IN: American Zoologist  39:34A, 1999.

Presentations Related to Project

  • Sudheimer, K., Winn, B., Johnson, J. Slice of Life Workshops, for Medical Multimedia Developers and Educators. Slice of Life 2003 Conference for Medical Multimedia Developers and Educators / Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA June 24-28 2003.
  • Sudheimer, K., Winn, B., Johnson, J. Online Brain Atlases with Facility for Cross-Species Comparison of Neuroanatomical Features. Slice of Life 2003.
  • Johnson, J., Sudheimer, K., Winn, B. “Online Electronic Atlases of Human, Dolphin and Sheep Brains.”  Slice of Life 2002 Conference for Medical Multimedia Developers and Educators / Toronto, Ontario, Canada / June 2002
  • Annual Meeting of the Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, Ypsilanti, MI / May 5, 2000:  (
  • Computers In Healthcare Education Symposium and "Slice Of Life" Workshop, Philadelphia, Pa, June 25, 1999 (

Press Coverage (newspapers, magazines, TV, web, and newsletters)

  • Featured in Science Newswatch, Leslie, M. 2001 NetWatch. Images: Virtual brain shelf. Science 293: (5527)
  • Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Lopez, J. C. 2001 Web Watch. The brain museum. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2: 308
  • Site of the month for October 2001 in D-Lib online magazine at
  • Reviewed in “The Lancet: Neurology” Volume 1, Number 7, November 2002. “Where on the web, Where in the Brain: Neuroanatomy Atlases”.
  • The site was selected as Yahoo's Pick of the Week. March 6, 2000.


  • July 2001. Collaborative Research: Accessing Brain Collection Information and Images Via the Internet. John Johnson (PI), Brian Winn, et al. (NSF), $233,005. Research and Creative Proposal. Funded 8/15/02 – 8/14/05.


My role on this project is as a programmer, interface designer, web designer, and technology consultant. In particular, I developed tools to create the online human, sheep, and dolphin brain atlases, including developing the online atlas interface and search features. I also develop strategies for converting physical and analog content into digital form and instruct the rest of the staff on loading the prepared materials on to the Internet.


The "Brain Biodiversity Bank" web site is available online and has been used extensively nationally and internationally as an educational tool and research resource.