The BodyViz Story

Virtual reality pioneers turn a vision into a reality

In 2007 BodyViz was founded by pioneers in virtual reality, prominent professors Jim Oliver and Eliot Winer, after they developed an algorithm to simply and quickly render MRI and CT data into 3D visualizations using off-the-shelf hardware. They collaborated with world renowned laparoscopic surgeon, Thom Lobe and early in 2008 recruited serial entrepreneur Curt Carlson as CEO. Curt has a proven record of building successful ventures from innovative technologies developed at research universities. Together they worked tirelessly to make patient imaging data accessible and meaningful to a broad base of users through computer visualization.


Early on, the team identified a paradigm shift occurring in healthcare and education. Educators, healthcare providers, and researchers need to communicate complex anatomical and medical concepts in a way that is easy to understand for a wide variety of audiences. The advancements in imaging have exponentially increased the amount of medical information available, but, the data remained locked up in radiological silos. Driven by a vision to unlock this data and the 3D spatial relationships contained within, the BodyViz team refined the original innovation into interactive anatomy software made for instructors, students, medical professionals, and consumers.

BodyViz instantly makes a lasting impression

The potential of BodyViz was immediately recognized by thought leaders. In 2009, BodyViz obtained FDA approval for market release on personal computers. BodyViz received the prestigious Technology Association of Iowa’s Prometheus Award for Startup Company of the Year (2009), first place in the 2009 John Pappajohn Iowa Business Plan competition and Breakout Company of the Year in 2011. Over the next five years BodyViz was integrated in anatomy curriculum and patient education programs at institutions and medical practices around the world. To make all this happen, experts were strategically recruited in software development, computer visualization, anatomy education, sales, and marketing, building a team driven to dramatically scale the company.

The BodyViz team The BodyViz integration team has a little fun at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio virtual anatomy lab.

Customer partnerships drive future success

Now, a recognized innovator on the use of 3D CT and MRI visualizations, BodyViz has played a critical role in the installation of virtual anatomy labs at state of the art facilities including University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, A.T. Still University, and Idaho State University. In December 2016, the company released BodyViz 5.0, BodyViz Sync, BodyViz for the iPad, and new curriculum content services. Driven by partnerships with customers, the BodyViz roadmap includes product and service enhancements optimizing ease of use, mobility, content integration, curriculum resources, and hardware advancements.

Meet the bodyviz management team

Curt Carlson headshot

Curt Carlson, President & CEO – Curt Carlson is a seasoned “serial” entrepreneur providing extensive CEO leadership, software sales and software development experience in commercializing tech-transfer technologies. He has spent over 25 years building tech-transfer companies via the ISU Research Park. In order to execute on a given tech-transfer commercialization opportunity, Mr. Carlson surrounds himself with a management team of industry specialists. He leads and is an integral part of BodyViz’s sales and marketing and product development efforts. Mr. Carlson is a native Iowan who studied computer science and business at ISU. Upon graduation, he was recruited to Ford Motor Company in Detroit as a software engineer where he quickly became a key team member on high-profile Ford projects. At age 25, he was recruited back to Ames to start one of the first ISU Research Park companies: University Systems Technology (UST). In 1999, Mr. Carlson negotiated the sale of UST to a multi-billion dollar public corporation, McLeodUSA (NASDAQ:MCLD), subsequently acquiring another competitor, then as a member of the management group, buying out the division and exiting in 2005. Following the exit, Mr. Carlson was introduced to a compelling new ISU technology, “the Google for shapes,” a shape-based search engine called CADSeek. Mr. Carlson became a major investor and raised seed financing. This search engine is in operation at major Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Carlson is a board member of the Iowa Innovation Council and a former board member of the ISU Research Foundation.

Jim Oliver headshot

James Oliver, PhD, VP Operations & Software Support, Founder – Dr. Oliver holds the title of University Professor at ISU and serves as Larry and Pam Pithan Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He serves as Director of ISU’s Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) and its Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Dr. Oliver’s current research, teaching and economic development activities involve a wide array of human computer interaction technologies, encompassing computer graphics, geometric modeling, virtual reality and collaborative networks for applications in product development and complex system operation. Previously, Dr. Oliver served as Vice President of Product Development at Cognicity, Inc. a Twin-Cities startup, focused on Internet-based entertainment marketing. From 1997-2000, Dr. Oliver headed product development for Engineering Animation Inc. (NASDAQ: EAII), where he led the creation of a unique Internet-based visual collaboration tool for supply chain integration.

Eliot Winer headshot

Eliot Winer, PhD, VP Software Development, Founder – Dr. Winer is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and serves as Associate Director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center at ISU. Dr. Winer's research focuses on conceptual design of complex systems, virtual reality and visualization as aids in decision making, medical image visualization, segmentation and surgical planning. From 1994-2001, Dr. Winer was a founding partner of After Five Technologies originally headquartered in Buffalo, NY. After Five focused on e-commerce systems at the beginning of the commercial Internet boom in the late 1990s. His second company, Visual Design Systems, LLC provided visualization software and services from 2000-2004 to improve the design processes for engineered products.

Thom Lobe headshot

Thom Lobe, MD, JD, MBA, FACS, Chief Medical Officer, Founder – Dr. Lobe is a world-renowned Pediatric surgeon and specialist in Anti-Aging Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy. He is based in Chicago, IL where he works at Advocate Children's Hospital. Dr. Lobe's innovative ideas on using Medical Diagnostic imaging as a guide to surgical approaches provided the impetus to develop BodyViz. Dr. Lobe is a pioneer and expert in minimally-invasive surgery, anti-aging medicine and the use of stem cells to treat a variety of medical conditions. Dr. Lobe received his MD at the University of Maryland and did his residency at Ohio State University. Dr. Lobe has written more than 200 books, book chapters and peer-reviewed articles. He has lectured worldwide and has received lifetime achievement awards on three continents for his pioneering work. Dr. Lobe found time to study law and complete a Physician’s Executive Masters in Business Administration degree program at the University of Tennessee School of Business in Knoxville, TN. It was there that he focused on the development of his ideas for a new kind of medical practice, combining the best of conventional, complementary and alternative medicines. As an innovator, Dr. Lobe was also a board member and founding advisor to Neatstitch, LLC, a laparoscopic instrument company based in Israel and the United States.


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