Inspiring artists & scientists

Working together, artists and our scientists inspire each other to think differently about genomics in exciting new ways. People perceive and are affected by science in a variety of ways and the arts allow expression of these multiple perspectives. Visual art, music, the moving image, creative writing and performance have the power to highlight the novel issues about genetics research and encourage debate amongst new audiences.

Sanger science has inspired artists and scientists to work together on a variety of creative projects. Below are examples of some of these projects.


Video resource: Sanger Visits

'Parasite' has been created by artist Deborah Robinson working in close collaboration with Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute malaria researchers Julian Rayner and Oliver Billker. During a residency at the Sanger Institute, Deborah explored how genomics is being used to understand the biology of the parasite that causes malaria and how this may be used to establish new ways of preventing or treating the disease.

For this exhibition Deborah has used sections of archival films which she found within the Wellcome Collection and Imperial War Museum Library and which depict the 'mass eradication' campaigns which characterised attempts to control the disease in the last century. She deploys software, developed with digital and sound artist David Strang, to corrode sections of this archival documentary footage and reminding us of the cyclical and recurrent nature of this deadly disease.

This project was funded by Arts Council England and was displayed at the Ruskin Gallery in the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University until 18 July 2013.

Video resource: Sanger Visits

Art in Global Health

Katie Paterson is an emerging talent in the world of art. Her conceptual projects make use of sophisticated technologies and specialist expertise to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements between people and their natural environment. Katie explored the personal, cultural and political dimensions of health research with our scientists at the Sanger Institute. She worked closely with the Institute's Faculty member Chris Tyler-Smith and his Human evolution research group. Katie created Fossil Necklace which consists of over 170 beads carved from fossils that chart the evolution of life on earth. The oldest fossil is around 3.5 billion years old. Fossil Necklace, along with other works by Katie Paterson, was displayed at Kettle's Yard gallery in Cambridge until 23rd June 2013.

This was part of Art in Global Health a project driven by Wellcome Collection, part of the global charitable foundation the Wellcome Trust. This project set up six artist residencies in six Trust-funded research centres: the Sanger Institute in the UK and centres in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam.

Being Human

 Artist Sally Sheinman and her paper sculpture 'Being Human'

Artist Sally Sheinman and her paper sculpture 'Being Human'


Being Human is a project by artist Sally Sheinman that was inspired by genetics to celebrate people through their similarities and diversity. The piece comprised two paper sculptures that represented the human genome, the DNA code that makes us all human, and the human form, demonstrating individual uniqueness. The public were then invited to contribute by answering the question What makes you unique?

Residencies at the Sanger Institute

Artists, broadcasters, writers and exhibition developers have taken up residencies in the Franklin Centre for Public Engagement to create installations, write poems, scripts, stories, and raps on contemporary biomedical and genomic research.

If you have a project that relates to genetics/genomics and would like access to the expertise at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, email


The Franklin Centre for Public Engagement
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute,
Wellcome Trust Genome Campus,
CB10 1SA

Phone: +44(0)1223 496995
Fax: +44(0)1223 494919


Please download an overview of the Public Engagement programme.

* quick link -