The Human Cell Atlas Project
Being a science illustrator is incredible. We rejoice in the small, incremental discoveries of scientists; and sometimes… sometimes… we get to join in the excitement of a truly revolutionary announcement. Today, we’re so happy to share artwork created for Human Cell Atlas project, a massive database set to transform how we look at the cell.
We worked with scientists from Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to represent this accomplishment. Their 3 joint papers are published in this week’s Science magazine. As explained by these scientists, this milestone is on par with the release of the human genome database. Amazing in of itself, it will redefine what future science is possible.
The human cell reference catalog identifies key differences between cell types in different tissues. The atlas includes molecular characterization of:
- 1 million individual human cells
- more than 400 cell types
- across 33 different tissues and organs
The Evolution of the Human Cell Atlas Science Cover
The final scientific cover artwork is relatively refined. Some might even say simple. Behind the scenes, that final simplicity took countless hours and a number of revisions. Scientists like Angela Pisco and Bob Jones from CZ Biohub, and Cecilia Dominquez Conde and Chuan Xu from the Sanger Institute patiently offered ideas and reviewed concepts. On the other side, Science magazine art directors Beth Rakouskas and Marcy Atarod helped us clarify the vision and guided us toward the final data-vis inspired art.
Below are several of the sketches as we went from playing with the map, or atlas idea, to the final idea of cells organized on different shelves, according to tissue. A macrophage on one shelf may have key differences from one on another shelf, and scientists can now study this data to better understand tissue-specific biology.
Science Art for Your Next Discovery?
What’s your discovery? Our science communication studio is always excited to hear about your work, and we’re looking forward to working with you on our next science visual project. You can tell us more about your research or technology here.
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