Medical Devices

When art meets medicine: A visual timeline of clinical research

imarc timelineLook no further than the popular LinkedIn photo series “Where I Work” for an indication of how important a creative workspace is for many industry leaders.

While clinical research might not seem particularly creative or visual, a Cleveland-area CRO is working on a project that started as a way to add some creativity to its office but ended up becoming much bigger and more meaningful.

Before founding IMARC Research, which provides clinical monitoring and auditing for the medical device and biotechnology industries, Sandra Maddock worked as a nurse. She said she remembers that most hospitals had some kind of artwork that represented milestones of values of medical practice, and wanted to recreate that in some form of mural or collage that reflected the history of her current industry.

“Clinical research is speckled with so many amazing things and horrible things that frame our practice,” she said.


Once she proposed the idea to her team at IMARC, a handful of staff members began digging into books, literature and the good old internet looking for the people, events and documents that have laid the groundwork for CROs.

Then they handed what they found over to a Cleveland-area artist, Nicolette Capuano, who owns Beyond the Wall Mural Design (recently rebranded as Nicolette Atelier). Although the company originally wanted a mural, Capuano envisioned something else.

Some of the most important events in clinical research history were the formation of ethical guidelines or legislative documents. But many of them were preceded by deaths. She thought a piece-by-piece timeline of the history, with its ups and downs, would provide more powerful imagery.

Once Maddock was on board, Capuano interpreted the research into a series of 12×12 digital designs that were printed onto Plexiglass panels. “They’re intriguing but not exactly straightforward,” she said of the images, which now hang in chronological order along the walls of IMARC.

“What I’ve seen happen for the staff is that it’s given them a visual of the value that they bring to the clinical research industry in the job that they do every day,” Maddock said. “Having an understanding of how we fit into that equation as an industry will help us keep that ethical bar as high as we can keep it.”

Capuano is already working on two new pieces to add to the timeline, and the IMARC team is working on a book that assimilates all of their research along with the art. “It really is a living piece,” Capuano said.

Some of the most historically and visually interesting pieces of the timeline were selected for the slideshow below.

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[Artwork courtesy Nicolette Capuano, Beyond the Wall Mural Design]

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