Got a disease? Own it – with this unique science art

Beautiful images from U-M medical research labs available at Ann Arbor Art Fairs and online


“Road Not Taken” – a new Bioartography image for 2015 by U-M grad student Justine Pinskey – was made almost by accident, when she noticed the colors and shapes made while she adjusted her microscope to focus on cells she studies.

If you have a chronic disease or a child born with a medical problem, it may sometimes feel like the diagnosis owns you.

But now you can turn the tables and own _it_.

How? By buying unique art that’s made by University of Michigan scientists who study everything from diabetes and cancer to digestive disorders and genetic diseases.

Through a program called BioArtography, they turn images made in their labs and pictures taken through microscopes into artworks that look beautiful on any wall.

This week, they’ll sell prints and notecards of their art at Ann Arbor’s famous Art Fairs, which run from Wednesday through Saturday. Every year, their booth attracts people with different health conditions who seek out a way to “own” their disease in this new way.

And the proceeds from all sales help young scientists launch their careers and do more research on the conditions.

Who knew that kidney cells could be beautiful, or that DNA could take your breath away? The scientists who compete to have their images included in the annual crop of new BioArtography images do.

left behind

A cell divides through mitosis – but leaves one chromosome (pink) behind… which could lead to cancer. This image by U-M Medical School graduate student Andrew Freddo was chosen by a jury as one of 16 BioArtography images for 2015.

Deborah Gumucio, Ph.D., the scientist who leads the project and the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology in the U-M Medical School, says the effort to turn science into art helps bring the microscopic world alive for the general public – and to show that researchers aren’t just about data and facts.

A jury of scientists, art professors and artists chose 16 new images for the collection this year, and they’ll be available at booth #112 of Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair, on E. University between Willard and S. University.

The weeks leading up to the fair are a frenzy of activity, as lab staff prepare the prints, and frame and package them, in an unused area of a research lab.

This year, the team is introducing images printed directly onto canvas, and images printed on metallic backgrounds, which give the cells and molecules extra shimmer and depth. They also offer several sizes of matted, framed prints, and packs of notecards.

After the fair is over, the new images will be available for order online at www.bioartography.com, along with prints and notecards of more than 200 images chosen in past years.

Past BioArtography sales have raised enough money to send more than 80 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to scientific conferences, where they can present their work to other scientists, and make connections that can help them launch their careers in research and industry.

The BioArtography team turns an unused section of a research lab into a framing shop before Art Fair week.

The BioArtography team turns an unused section of a research lab into a framing shop before Art Fair week.

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U-M Medical School logoSince 1850, the U-M Medical School has helped lead the nation in educating physicians & biomedical scientists; advancing research in a wide range of basic, translational, clinical and health services fields; and serving patients & the community through its faculty physicians. As a vital part of the U-M Health System, and of one of the nation’s most respected universities, the Medical School helps create the future of medicine through discovery.