Fusing advanced computing, simulation and visualization with biomedicine has earned University of Utah computer scientist Chris Johnson a prestigious award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society.

The institute announced today that it is bestowing the 2013 Sidney Fernbach Award on Johnson, a distinguished professor of computer science, for his pioneering work in simulating anatomical structures such as the brain with high-performance computers, enabling medical researchers to improve treatment, hasten recovery and continue unravelling neurological mysteries.

More than 20 years ago, health care professionals employed standardized computer models with spheres representing organs. Johnson harnessed rapidly evolving computers and paired them with algorithms, MRIs and X-rays to recreate 3-D body structures. His first effort, created with University of Utah bioengineering Professor Rob S. MacLeod, garnered significant international attention and an IBM supercomputing award for being the most anatomically correct, MRI-based 3-D model of a human torso at that time.

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