The GOAL of the project is to promote annual flu vaccination, encourage disease prevention behaviors, and improve understanding of the influenza virus and mechanisms of disease transmission in an educated lay audience. The project will consist of:


A 3D animation that describes the pathway of influenza infection from the cellular to the population level.

Interactive Infographics

An interactive application that utilizes the linear narrative of the animation, while providing the opportunity for exploration of additional content in the form of pop-up icons throughout the animation. When selected these icons will reveal infographics containing supplemental information.


A website to host the animation and interactive content, as well as maximize public outreach.

Project Concept

Influenza is a highly contagious global virus that causes severe respiratory illness and can lead to death in high-risk populations. Despite ongoing media attention on the topic of flu, resistance to immunization and misperceptions regarding disease prevention and transmission persist across both the lay and educated public. Visual communication is a powerful tool for public health promotion, and web-based resources are increasingly important for those seeking health information. Currently available visuals use free-standing animations to describe content that is often too scientifically complex for a lay audience, while resources housed within more extensive websites are text-heavy and lack visuals altogether.


The purpose of this project is to explore the viability of integrating exploratory interactive content with linear 3D animation in a web-based tool to communicate a persuasive health promotion message, increase public awareness about the cellular mechanisms of viral infection, and debunk misconceptions associated with flu and immunization. This project represents an innovative approach to public education about the influenza virus in that it combines principles of linear, visual narrative (3D animation) and non-linear, interactive data visualization. The tool will provide insight to members of the biomedical visualization community regarding the viability of combining didactic narrative and interactive, self-guided learning principles in health promotion material. If successful, the project will provide a template for further development into a widely accessible visual resource for seasonal flu information – not only for members of the general public, but also as a visual educational tool for health care professionals.


Supervisory Committee

Primary supervisor: Professor Nick Woolridge (Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto)

Content advisor:  Dr. Tania Watts (Department of Immunology, University of Toronto)

Second voting-members: Dr. Jodie Jenkinson (Biomedical Communications) & Dr. Bryna Warshawsky (public health physician, Public Health Ontario)



The completed animation may be viewed here. The interactive version, completed website and all infographics may be viewed at:


*NOTE: Still working through some bugs. The site currently works best when viewed on a desktop, using either Chrome or Safari. Apologies for any inconvenience!



Biomedical Communications Program, University of Toronto Mississauga
Department of Immunology, University of Toronto