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Systems immunity artwork

We engage with scientists and artists to help describe the complexity of the immune system, the challenges associated with studying biological and clinical phenomena, and novel technological and computational advances.

We collect and display images, graphics and original artwork on our website and social media channels but also as exhibits across the laboratories of the Systems Immunity URI and as illustrations for press releases, posters and newsletters.


As example of these activities we here present a selection of entries submitted for a university-wide picture competition on Systems Biology and the Immune System held in January/February 2016.


This image shows the interacting levels of medical research, starting with a DNA sequence that is shared between mice and men, gram-stained E. coli bacteria, various viruses either researched or used in research, a blood stain of immune cells, zebrafish and mice as experimental models, and finally the participants in research: the scientists, doctors, nurses and patients that make it all happen. (Artist: Simone Cuff)

Inflammatory Supernova

This image highlights the dramatic and catastrophic explosion in gene expression, which occurs rapidly following the onset of progressive debilitating human inflammatory disease such as arthritis. Akin to a Supernova, cutting edge exploration of this process at the Systems Immunity Research Institute allows us to examine this process in detail and document the critical events in each stage in the evolution of disease. (Artist: Jason Twohig)

I am not really sure how it began

("At first, my knees were a little sore, now I have trouble walking")

I am not really sure how it began
This image documents a fraction of inflammatory gene pathways triggered in helper T cells within hours of encountering the cytokine IL-6, leading to a cascade of progressive joint inflammation over time when uninhibited. Data presented in this image were collected in a two year study designed to characterise pro-arthritic gene networks. Using this core knowledge, future studies will be directed to inhibit the inflammatory cascade by targeting individual nodes identified using complex systems dynamics. By this process, we hope to design novel patient-specific therapeutics for use early during the formation of disease. (Artist: Jason Twohig)

Journeying into the macrophage lipidome

macrophage lipidome
This is a graphical representation of part of the macrophage lipidome generated using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry followed by custom bioinformatics analysis. Each spot on the 3D-scatter plot represents an individual lipid with the colour indicating its class. Lipids are central players in macrophage biology, in particular during inflammatory vascular disease and metabolic syndrome, but we currently have a poor understanding of the total macrophage lipidome. Identifying, quantifying and understanding the functions of macrophage lipids is a difficult, painstaking and multidisciplinary task. By far the most abundant lipid class in this dataset is ‘unknowns’ indicating significant opportunity for discovery of new lipids in these cells. (Artist: Christopher Brasher)