Bringing Structure to Biology
Celebrating Art Inspired by the PDB
Over the past couple of years, PDBe has worked with local arts societies and schools, using protein structures to inspire artworks. Today, that work is celebrated and shared in a public exhibition of this work at the Michaelhouse Cafe in Cambridge.
Students from four Cambridge schools have created paintings, sculptures and even clothing, inspired by the 3D molecules that they have explored in the Protein Data Bank, the world’s oldest free-to-use biological database. Earlier this week, PDBe hosted an official opening of the exhibition, inviting the students, their teachers, arts society members and scientists to come together and celebrate these wonderful artworks.
Speaking at the opening, head of PDBe, Dr Sameer Velankar talked of the historic connection between structural biology and art: “from the very beginnings of Structural Biology, it was not enough for the scientists themselves to merely understand the scientific concepts, but to also represent their work as ‘beautiful objects.’” He also emphasised that the students had “not only produced beautiful artwork but also succeeded in portraying the ethical and societal impact in a very powerful way."
Also speaking at the viewing were the former director of the EBI, Prof Dame Janet Thornton, and Dr Rivka Isaacson, a structural biology group leader and a keen supporter of cross-disciplinary projects. Rivka praised the work by the schools involved in the project, saying that she “would have loved to have gone to one of these schools.” There was glowing praise from Janet for the students who created the artworks and she added that she had “always thought that protein structures were beautiful.”
This project has explored the cross-over between art and science, not only for the benefit of the students creating the artworks, but also for scientists. Researchers across the globe who are determining these 3D structures, along with scientists at the PDBe who distribute this data around the world, have had their eyes opened to this novel approach to the representation of the molecules of life and the stories built around them.
The exhibition runs until 28th July at the Michaelhouse Cafe, Trinity St, Cambridge.