Charlottesville Exhibit Features Bio Art

Jan 31, 2017

The connective tissue of a bullfrog's leg muscle is one of the many pieces set to be displayed.
Credit David Sleboda and Thomas Roberts/ American Physiological Association

Most people would agree, there’s nothing beautiful about cancer or AIDS or any other disease, but scientists working to find cures see beauty in the pictures they take to better understand what they’re up against.  Now, Sandy Hausman reports there’s an exhibit of those images, providing a chance for the public to see how exciting biology can be. 

Stroll around the gallery hosted by Charlottesville’s BioHub, and you see a variety of artistic styles.

“You can see stuff that looks like impressionists.  You can see religious types of art, and you can see several of the pictures we have actually look very Asian.”

But Martin Chapman, who heads the BioHub, says these brightly colored works are actually photographs.

“They’re all photographic images of real biological systems. This one is pancreatic cancer cells. This is a picture of the human immune-deficiency virus which causes AIDS. If you look at that, it just looks like a piece of folk art.”

The images were chosen through a contest sponsored by the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology.  There’s the central nervous system from a horned dung beetle, the egg of a zebrafish, connective tissue from a bull frog’s leg, a video showing how calcium floods the nerve cells in our brains and more.  The public is invited to take a look on the first Friday of February.