Seeking the Artistry in Research
Many avenues of research impress the careful observer with their aesthetic quality. Jefferson’s inaugural Research as Art Competition celebrates all Jefferson researchers who have an eye for the beauty in their work.
From capturing cellular landscapes, to exploring expressions of grief and learning through art therapy practice, this year’s submissions cover a wide swath of research interests. Learn about the winners, the judges and all of the entries submitted.
(Top-image credit, left to right: Nazanin Moghbeli, MD, Karthik Krishnamurthy, PhD, and the Jefferson Design Center)
Shashirekha Shamamandri Markandaiah
"The butterfly effect"- Image represents fluorescent micrograph of mouse spinal cord labeled for a group of neurons called motor neurons (labeled in yellow). The nuclei in the spinal cord have been labeled in blue. A distinguishing feature of these motor neurons is their ability to communicate with muscles throughout the body. The motor neurons accomplish this using a neurotransmitter acetylcholine which sends signals to muscle to contract. In essence the motor neurons even though in the spinal cord control muscle movement similar to a butterfly effect.
“Astrosun”- Image represents fluorescent micrograph of a group of supporting cells called astrocytes (labeled in red) derived from the spinal cord of a mouse. Nuclei of these astrocytes are labeled in cyan. These astrocytes were experimentally manipulated to express amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/ (ALS) aka Lou Gehrig’s disease linked toxic protein called SOD1-G93A labeled in yellow. Astrocytes expressing this toxic protein lose their nurturing effect and kill nearby motor neurons which in turn affects muscle strength in ALS patients.
Creating connections is an essential part of life. Cells of the nervous system, called neurons, form structures called synapses in order to communicate. This communication is critical for life as we know it, allowing us to think, move, and sense. Yet, these connections are remarkably similar amongst different animals. Here, a neuron of a fruit fly (green) makes contact with a muscle, while microtubules (red, magenta) form elaborate branches that make up the infrastructure of the cell. Understanding the basics of these connections in the fruit fly allows us to draw parallels to the human brain to better understand disease.
This Year's Judges
Nazanin Moghbeli is a Jefferson cardiologist and medical director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. She has developed innovative educational workshops at the intersection of medicine and art, and was last year's Humanities and Health Artist-in-Residence. She is the co-founder and co-director of the Einstein Center for Humanism, with Dr. Rachel Fleishman. Her artwork is inspired by Iranian calligraphy, and she uses ancient Iranian tools and techniques to make drawings that reference the diagnostic imagery she encounters in her cardiology practice. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries around the world.
Alison McCook is a writer and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where you can find her recent essays on COVID, caregiving, grief and loss. She spent many years guiding the editorial vision and execution of The Scientist magazine as deputy editor, and served as an investigative reporter and editor for Retraction Watch. Her writing has appeared in Reuters, Scientific American, Science and Nature, among others.
2022 Research Art Competition Submissions
Browse a selection of additional entries below, and explore all of the 2022 submissions via downloadable PDF that includes images and descriptions from the artists.
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