Like most great ideas, Wordotomy came about over a cup of tea but what laid the ground for that momentous chat in the staff kitchen?
For many years, Siobhan had been passionate about finding new and engaging ways of making anatomy relevant and memorable for her students. She had noticed many were unaware complex terms could be understood by breaking them down into components. Her solution was to create an anatomy etymology game with common clinical word roots printed on one side and the definition on the other, for example ‘cardio-‘ meaning ‘relating to the heart’. This was an immediate hit and soon gained interest across our own medical school and further afield.
Meanwhile, John was busy subverting his role as a medical biochemistry lecturer by incorporating as much of his passion for art and cartoons into his teaching materials as he could reasonably get away with. Word slowly crept out that he knew which way up to hold a marker pen and this brings us back to the boiling kettle…
Siobhan was describing the successful use of her cards in a teaching session that morning but regretted their lack of visual impact. Seeing a chance to draw a whole new range of ideas, John offered to provide some illustrations and mock up some designs. It snowballed from there. Before long they had prepared dozens of cards and after an afternoon spent overheating the printer and wielding a guillotine, the genesis of the first pack of Wordotomy was complete.
I was a science geek from an early age. This borderline obsession with figuring things out led me to my Phd on what happens to radioactive particles in the gut once we’ve eaten them (don’t worry, I used cell culture, not friends and family!). During this time two surprising things happened, I realised that I found teaching medical students even more rewarding than research, and I discovered a love of anatomical science. So, I learned my anatomy with the Anatomical Society and here I am. Lead in anatomy at Peninsula Medical School and making fun and memorable ways to learn.
On leaving school I had to choose between art college or a science degree. I reasoned if the science didn’t work out I’d still be able to draw - it’s much harder to be a professional artist running a lab in your shed, at least legally anyway. I spent over 20 years researching the development of the nervous system and teaching biomedical science. I really enjoy teaching and now concentrate on that which allows me to work on projects such as Wordotomy®. Finally I have my dream job of science and art!