News of the passing of Dr. Bernard Fisher, Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a pioneer in the field of breast cancer research, provided a moment of reflection about his legacy and the connection that the University Center for Teaching and Learning had with his incredible work at the University of Pittsburgh.
“Perhaps Dr. Fisher’s most important contribution has been the establishment of a scientific approach to the study of breast cancer,” according to a memorial article published by PittWire. “His work resulted in the creation of the paradigm that not only governs the treatment for breast cancer but has shaped the landscape of cancer research more broadly.”
It was in pursuit of this medical breakthrough that the Teaching Center (then known as University Center for Instructional Resources, or UCIR), contributed to Dr. Fisher’s research. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, UCIR’s graphic services unit worked closely with Dr. Fisher and his medical research team in a variety of ways:
- To design presentation materials for medical symposia and seminars. Reprographics companies helped us produce poster displays on photographic paper that came in sizes of up to seven feet long and one ink tone (black).
- To create 35mm slides for presentations at conferences. A single slide took an hour to produce and 24 hours to process, and there were often dozens of slides to procure before a major event.
- To prepare pictures and graphics for scientific journals and medical publications. Graphic artists used drafting film, pen and ink, X-acto knives, and self-adhesive films to prepare these items. Text was composed on stand-alone photo typesetters.
The advent of the era of personal computing and digitization allowed faculty to create many of these assets themselves, so the need for our services slowly decreased over time. But we knew that the work we had done together was integral to the dissemination of knowledge about the subjects that the researchers were investigating. In preparing items for public distribution, we were often the first to see the results of Dr. Fisher’s groundbreaking research—even before the larger medical community. In hindsight, what a privilege it was for UCIR staff to have worked alongside one of Pitt’s pioneering researchers for nearly 20 years. It is gratifying to know that in some small way, the Teaching Center contributed to the advancement of science and society through Dr. Fisher’s work—work that saved the lives of untold numbers of women afflicted with breast cancer around the world.
Blaine Walker, Manager
Academic Digital Media
University Center for Teaching and Learning