Dr Susan Nasif is not your average virologist. She has combined her passion for comic books with her knowledge of science to create a novel way of explaining vaccines
“My parents always wanted me to be a doctor,” she told Vaccines Today. “So I have become one with a mission not only to promote science but also to inject laughter into other people’s lives by making science more entertaining and – in a way – more passionate.”
Susan has been working on scientific cartoons since the age of eight, pairing art and science in a way she hopes will make both disciplines more accessible. She takes inspiration from many sources, including French literary giant Jules Verne.
While Susan’s graphic skills were honed from an early age, she established an impressive CV through her studies in the sciences. She was awarded a PhD in virology from the University of Leuven for her work with Professor Johan Neyts, has worked on the hepatitis C virus with Professor Fabien Zoulim at Lyon University, and was a three-time winner of a Certificate of Excellence for her undergraduate work.
These days, Susan is collecting prizes for her drawing including the US Science Hero Award for her Cimaza Virology Comics. The small team of authors and artists working on the cartoons includes a chemist, a colourist and an animator dedicated to applying humour, imagery and information to the challenge of communicating about immunization.
“Television and the Internet have done an enormous amount to raise public awareness about routes for the transmission of diseases, as well as providing basic knowledge for doctors, patients, and the general public,” Susan says. “However, there remains a need for reference materials that discuss these topics in an easy, enjoyable, inspirational, and informative way.”
Her work has – excuse the pun – gone viral on social media and prints of her comics can be found on display in Germany, Switzerland and the US. Check out more of Susan’s drawings on her website, on Amazon
So what’s next?
“Our plan is a 5-years project to release 12 volumes of the Virology Comics plus at least one 30-minute film based on the book as well as at least one digital game from the same adventures,” Susan explains.
The team has already experimented with animation so keep an eye on their YouTube channel as they promise to publish new material this month.