BioArtography

Every day at U-M, scientists from many fields work together to study organism development, function and disease. While the goal of these studies is to design new and effective ways to treat disease and provide better understanding of ourselves as well as the world around us, many are also taking the time to share the beauty of their work with others through a program called BioArtography. In the course of research, scientists use special stains to add color to the otherwise transparent tissues. Microscopes then allow detailed observation of the tiny, colorful biological structures from inside our bodies revealed in these images. This results in a fascinating combination of art and science that U-M researchers are capturing in pictures taken through microscopes and turning into artworks that would look beautiful on any wall.

Founded in 2005 by Deborah Gumucio, Ph.D., and Sue O’Shea, Ph.D., professors in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, BioArtography has developed into a thriving program. Gumucio, who leads the project, says the effort to turn science into art helps bring the microscopic world to life for the general public—and shows that researchers aren’t just about data and facts.

Each year the program sells its art at Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair. Throughout the year BioArtography images (a collection of over 200) and note cards can be viewed and ordered online. Proceeds from the sale of this work help support the training of our next generation of researchers. Past BioArtography sales have raised enough money to send more than 90 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to scientific conferences, where they can present their work to other scientists and make connections that can help them launch their research careers.