Dr Maja Divjak works at the interface between art and science, using Biomedical Animation for the purposes of scientific education and illustration of biological processes
Many people are frightened of science, both the ideas and the language; we wish to remove this fear by making science accessible, through the use of captivating 3D representations, rather than abstract concepts.
The overwhelming power of biomedical animation is the ability to make the unseen, molecular world visible, as only the electron microscope is currently powerful enough to do that. Furthermore, biomedical animation can break down the barriers between empirical research, that is the people in white coats and the public. It acts as a conduit from a rarefied, often unseen world giving the layperson a greater understanding and insight into what our scientists get up to behind the closed doors of the lab. It gives access to new discoveries that might otherwise be very difficult to explain and promotes a sense of inclusiveness that has previously been lacking. It even has the power to offer insights to scientists, inspiring ideas they might not have had, until seeing their hero molecules in action.
Biomedical Animation at Peter Mac
At Peter Mac, we use 3D animation to compare normal biology with cancer biology, enabling cancer patients and the interested lay person to understand some of the molecular and cellular processes at play in cancer and so connect with their own bodies and biology. We also wish to inform the viewer about how Peter Mac is approaching the problem of cancer by conducting world-leading research and offering the most cutting-edge diagnostics, treatments, education and psychological support.
The animations we create are based on actual scientific data- the protein and DNA molecules you see are actually how they look- they are not just artistic interpretations. We spend large amounts of time researching these molecules and how they interact and many, many hours building them based on data available in the Protein Data Bank. Often, we are working right at the leading edge of research and some structures have simply not yet been determined. In these situations, we create an approximation of them based on their amino acid sequence, so we are still using scientific data as much as we can. We do, however, use artistic license when it comes to colour. This is contentious as most molecules are not inherently coloured. However, we feel that colour can be employed to great visual effect as it directs the viewer’s attention, can imply disease states and engages through sheer beauty.
The ultimate aim of our animations is to help people appreciate the beauty and drama unfolding in their own bodies at any given moment. Human biology is extraordinary!