A Microbial Vision

Artist: Digizyme, Inc. Knowledge Through Visual Science

A Microbial Vision

The inspiration behind this month’s issue is two-fold.

First and foremost, we introduce you to the microbiome and our esteemed colleagues--affectionately known as “The Biome Squad”--who investigate the makeup of our biomes in the context of disease prevention and treatment.  Disease may begin in the gut, but these medical mystery solvers are up to their eyeballs in sh!t. Literally! Learn about life-changing research as presented in the recent Malibu Microbiome Conference and highlighted in this month’s The Humans of Medicine section of Physician Outlook.  The Squad will educate and guide you on findings from recent fecal microbial transplant research and new technologies.  What if the key to health and longevity doesn’t come in a pill?  What if the prescription drugs and supplements that so many of us have come to rely on are actually doing more harm than good?  From autism to Alzheimer's to cancer and COVID-19, the research is too compelling to ignore.    

Now for the flip side - as you know, I am a Medical Doctor by training with a deep admiration for art, beauty, and science. I have no innate artistic talent myself, but I am forever drawn to and mesmerized by colleagues in healthcare who have reclaimed their souls through art.

This month’s cover is graced by the striking beauty and order of the eukaryotic cell that literally went “viral” in the Fall of 2020 and inspired awe in everyone who encountered it on their social media feed. Dr. Gaël McGill, molecular biologist, is the founder and CEO of DigizymeTM, and together with artist David Goodsell, they created a 3D rendering of the eukaryotic cell common to animals, plants, fungi, and protozoa. The masterpiece was created on behalf of Digizyme’s client Cell Signaling Technology, Inc. Using a myriad of radiographic techniques including plain x-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, and cryo-electron microscopy they attempt to represent the many actors and the roles they play in the living cell.  (For more on Dr. McGill see The Artist of Science, by Skylar Steinberg, a gifted pre-med student turned artist/creator.)

Art, science, and research are inexorably intertwined. Imagine the biologically accurate artistry of Digizyme enabling The Biome Squad to unravel microbial microbiome mysteries - the "poop"-sabilities are endless! 


Cellular landscape


by Evan Ingersoll & Gaël McGill, Ph.D. using Molecular Maya (Digizyme Inc.)

Created for Cell Signaling Technology, Inc., and inspired by the stunning art of David Goodsell, this 3D rendering of a eukaryotic cell is modeled using X-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and cryo-electron microscopy datasets for all of its molecular actors. It is an attempt to recapitulate the myriad pathways involved in signal transduction, protein synthesis, endocytosis, vesicular transport, cell-cell adhesion, apoptosis, and other processes. Although dilute in its concentration relative to a real cell, this rendering is also an attempt to visualize the great complexity and beauty of the cell’s molecular choreography. Interactive versions of parts of this landscape can be explored at http://www.digizyme.com/cst_landscapes.html.

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