Have you ever wondered who created the illustration that is now associated with the novel coronavirus?

It is one of our very own Augusta University (AU) alumna!  Alissa Eckert was charged with creating the image that is known across the globe. Eckert, works as a medical illustrator for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), headquartered in Atlanta, GA. She also happens to be a graduate of our Master of Science in Medical Illustration graduate program (Class of 2006).

Alissa Eckert

Eckert and her colleague Dan Higgins, are the illustrators who developed the iconic image of the COVID-19 virus. Their work has provided a public face to the virus that doctors, scientists, and other health professionals are working tirelessly to control. Their illustration has even been featured on the cover of the April 2020 Special Edition Time magazine! When Eckert and Higgins were assigned this task, Eckert said they had one goal,  “[to] help inform and educate the public about the disease, and thus hopefully help improve public health by limiting and halting the spread of disease.”

Eckert’s  graduate program mentor at Augusta University, William “Bill” Andrews, MA, CMI, FAMI (Professor and Chair, Department of Medical Illustration), explains the significance of her work, “Most of the time, medical illustrators create images for unseen audiences that we will never meet. Because we work behind the scenes in support of medical education, public health information, and the healthcare industry in general, it is very rare for a medical illustrator to witness the direct impact of their work. In the case of this now-iconic picture, Alissa created an image that is intended for all. It has become the face of this pandemic.”

During this challenging time, we are grateful for the many different ways members of our AU Graduate School community are using their talents and skills to make a difference – from creating iconic illustrations, to working in research, hospitals, schools, at home and in the community. The entire AU community is very proud of Alissa for her unique and creative contribution. Andrews agrees, “ I, the Department of Medical Illustration, along with our entire alumni community, are understandably very proud of what she has created and of the role she plays in helping to combat this pandemic. In this one striking image, Alissa exemplifies what our graduates do every day—explain complex medical science for a variety of audiences by crafting clear and understandable visual stories.”

To read more about Eckert and Higgin’s work on the COVID-19 illustration check out these links featuring their work:

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