Cullen Ruff

Cullen Ruff, MD is a radiologist in private practice, and an associate professor of medical education at the University of Virginia campus in Fairfax, VA, where he has received awards teaching medical students. His best-selling book, Looking Within, explores human stories and insights from medical imaging. Short story chapters have appeared in several magazines and online forums, and in 2019, Ruff won a Washington, DC Moth story slam narrating a chapter from Looking Within. Ruff has lectured at the Smithsonian Institute and the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. Visit his website at https://www.cullenruff.com/.


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Understanding Ourselves through Human Imaging

Looking Within Cover

What would it be like to have x-ray vision?

Beyond diagnosing illness or injury, can images of ourselves tell us more about life?

What if you could see that an accident victim will never walk again; that a young mother has breast cancer; or that a teenager is brain-dead and will be removed from life support? Can imaging help us better appreciate the complexity of existence, our strengths and vulnerabilities? Does looking into the body give insight into what it means to be human? Would it allow you, at least indirectly, to glimpse evidence of the human soul?

Looking Within is the first mainstream collection of dramatic non-fiction narratives about discoveries in patients found by medical imaging. Ruff highlights the wonder and mystery of the human body, literally and metaphorically looking inside of others. Each story describes a patient in whom a life-changing discovery is made: tumors, stroke, domestic violence, substance abuse, sterility, unexpected pregnancy, infection, surgical complications, evidence of criminal activity, mental illness, even impending death. Dr. Ruff’s words, images, and insights help us see ourselves like never before.

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Awards, Reviews, and Coverage

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A memorable voyage into the mysteries of medicine. The precision of a scientific mind, and the compassion of a true healer.” –Bob Rosen, best-selling author of Conscious, Grounded, Leading People, Global Literacies, and The Healthy Company 

Dr. Cullen Ruff illuminates the breadth and power of medical imaging as a diagnostic tool and goes beyond that to help us experience its beauty and poignancy, bringing the field, and the reader, out of the dark.” –Carolyn Jourdan, Wall Street Journal best-selling memoirist, biographer, and mystery writer.

 “Dr. Cullen Ruff sees through the images on the screen to the profound human stories they tell. Compelling, compassionate, honest, and wise.” –Frank Huyler MD, author of The Blood of StrangersThe Laws of Invisible Things, and Right of Thirst

“A must read for patients and physicians alike.” – Susan Ascher MD, professor, Georgetown University School of Medicine