Baby cells and casts of wells

Intro by Emily Grieve
7th February 2015

Here artist Mark Doyle gives us his latest insight into the world of CIIE. From his talks with Amy Buck about ‘’baby cells’’ to analogies from Dom at the Blaxter lab, likening their work to a jigsaw puzzle. Mark has already started experimenting…

Studio cast test small[1]Photo by Mark Doyle

by Mark Doyle

Yesterday morning I was lucky enough to get an enthusiastic introduction to Amy Buck’s work looking into the function of vesicles. These “baby cells” are a relatively new area of study and could shed new light on how the cells in our body communicate by passing proteins and other molecular information from one cell to another. It’s been found that this process is common in many organisms from bacteria to humans and worryingly is thought to be a method by which many viruses invade our cells and adapt to the changing environment within our bodies.

Amy’s area of research has focussed on nematodes and this gave me a brief introduction to one of the subjects of my next meeting with Sujai, Dom and Ernest from the Blaxter Lab. I was given an insight into the work they do using powerful computers to process the data gathered in the Genomics department into usable DNA sequences. They specialise in anything “microscopic and wriggley” the nematode being just such an organism. Dom gave me an insightful analogy of their work, likening it to putting together a jigsaw puzzle, one that has millions of pieces, no corners or edges, no picture and some pieces that don’t fit!

Later in the afternoon I attended the happy hour lectures, one of which was given by Kim Prior from the Reece lab on the circadian rhythm of malaria parasites and whether they have their own biological clock or rely on that of their host to coordinate their activity.

As well as my time spent at CIIE I also managed to do a bit of experimenting in my studio this week. I made silicone moulds of well trays (donated by the Reece lab) then took plaster casts from these. They give some interesting forms, a mix of rounded organic shapes within a regimented grid structure, see above.

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