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Helmholtz Munich | ©Amelie J. Kraus

From idea to implementation – Anna Dumitriu ran a workshop about her artwork “The Cellular Reprogramming Necklace”

Stem Cells, IES,

During her stay in August 2022, Anna Dumitriu ran a workshop with researchers at the Institute for Epigenetics and Stem Cells to share her thoughts and experiences of the creative process underlying her artwork “The Cellular Reprogramming Necklace”.

The artist-in-residence program “The Mutability of Memories and Fates” of the internationally renowned and award-winning Bio-Artist Anna Dumitriu at the Institute for Epigenetics and Stem Cells (IES) of Helmholtz Munich is outlined around the major question: “How does a cell find its identity”.

From idea to implementation – a concept that is true for both art and science

For her artworks, Anna works side-by-side with the scientists at the IES to get insights into their projects and to gain hands-on experience with their methodologies. For the workshop about her artwork “The Cellular Reprogramming Necklace”, the roles were swapped. Guided by Anna, the junior and senior researchers engaged in philosophical reflections on the concepts of cell fate and memory. The participants learned about how Anna developed the idea for the necklace and identified that the underlying creative process shares similarities to how they address open research questions.

Anna’s artwork “The Cellular Reprogramming Necklace” explores how a cell packages its DNA and what impact the packaging has on cellular memory. The sculptural necklace physically represents the chromatin structure of the gene encoding the transcription factor OCT-4, one of the prominent Yamanaka Reprogramming Factors. Inducing the expression of OCT-4 alongside the other Yamanaka factors in any cell changes its cell identity towards an embryonic stem cell-like state, giving it the potential to become a different kind of cell. In eukaryotic cells (cells with nuclei) DNA is wrapped around histones and the tightness of this binding either prevents or allows the expression of genes. The necklace is embedded with extracted heterochromatin and euchromatin from the OCT-4 gene.

Following Anna’s instructions, the scientists created three versions of “The Cellular Reprogramming Necklace” with great enthusiasm, and these will be on exhibition in different locations around Europe this autumn.

Exhibition dates:

  • 6th September 2022 – 30th October 2022: BioArt Alchemy at Spazju Kreattiv in Valetta, Malta
  • 17th October 2022 – 20th October 2022: EpiC – EpiGene3Sys meets INC_Spain to ChromDesign the Genome