a-na-plas-to-lo-gy: The art and science of restoring a malformed or absent part of the human body through artificial means. An anaplastologist makes prosthetic devices. The art and science of the design and fabrication of lifelike restorative prostheses such as finger, hand, nose, face.
-Medicinenet.com. 2012


o-cu-lar-is-try: The general field of ocular prosthetics, specifically all aspects of the custom fitting and fabrication of artificial eyes.
-Dictionary of Terms for Ocularistry. 1994

Janet C Chao, BCO, CCA. OWNER of PAL

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Prosthetics Advancement Lab (PAL) was founded in 2014 by Janet Chao during her apprenticeship in both ocularistry and anaplastology, out of the desire to help advance the small field of facial prosthetics. Over the past few decades, only a handful of university programs have taught facial prosthetics and that number is decreasing. Currently there is no formal institution for training ocularists. An individual must undergo five years of apprenticeship (10,000 hours) in order to qualify for a board exam in ocularistry. The number of Board Certified Ocularists (BCO) in the world is in the hundreds, and fewer than fifty people carry the title of Certified Clinical Anaplastologist. These are highly trained individuals who have the skills to create a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing facial prosthesis.

While many talented individuals exist within these fields, it is extremely difficult for anaplastologists and ocularists to implement new ideas. Due to the relatively small population they serve, large entities with robust resources are rarely interested in making an investment to improve this field. Most anaplastologists and ocularists lack the support of an academic institution or a hospital and must rely on themselves for professional advancement.

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When the number of patients who enter the clinic directly correlates to the clinic's income, there is a desire for the clinician to focus his/her time on routinely seeing patients. Education, research, and making advancements are often placed on hold when there is no additional source of funding. At PAL, we make a special effort to prioritize these aspects. From 2014-2017, PAL was an extracurricular entity through which Janet taught medical art workshops locally and did custom projects for clients to support her own continued education.

At the time PAL was founded, Janet had been apprenticing with a BCO for three and half years. In February 2016, Janet received board certification status through the National Examining Board of Ocularists. She also received the title of Certified Clinical Anaplastology in June 2016 and (at the time of this certification) was one of fewer than forty certified clinical anaplastologists. In 2018, after working as a BCO at Ocular Artists, Inc. for two years, she purchased the practice through PAL. To ensure a continuous effort into the educational and research aspects of the business, the clinical work is limited to three days a week and profits from the clinic are reinvested towards advancing this unique field.

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EDUCATION

Certified Clinical Anaplastologist (2016)

Board Certified Ocularist (2016)

M.S. in Biomedical Visualization
University of Illinois, Chicago, IL (2010)

Certificate in Science Illustration
University of California Extension, Santa Cruz, CA (2006)

B.S. in Bioengineering, Chemistry Minor
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL (2005)

EXPERIENCES

Prosthetics Advancement Lab, LLC (2018-present)
Owner/Managing Member, Board Certified Ocularist, Certified Clinical Anaplastologist

Ocular Artists, Inc. (2016-2018)
Facility Manager, Board Certified Ocularist, Certified Clinical Anaplastologist

Phillip A. Danz & Associates/
Prosthetic Artists, Inc.
(2011-2016)
Apprentice Ocularist


Publications

Cramer, N., Chao, J., Tollefson, T. T., Teodorescu, M. (2015). Analysis of Contact Mechanics and Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamic Simulations of Viscoelastic Polymer Sine Waves. Proceedings of the ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, August 2-5, 2015, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. http://proceedings.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/proceeding.aspx?articleid=2483570

Ledgerwood, L. G., Chao, J., Tollefson, T. T. (2014). Prosthetic Reconstruction of Complicated Auricular Defects: Use of a Hybrid Prosthetic Fabrication Technique. JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, 16(2), 153-154. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamafacialplasticsurgery/article-abstract/1784243