2018 AMI Online Salon

Gut Microbes and Cancer

Project Details

  • Artist(s):  Valerie Altounian
  • Contributors: Valerie Altounian  ; Washington, District of Columbia
  • Client: Science/AAAS
  • Copyright: © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Medium / software used: Cinema 4D, Zbrush
  • Final presentation format: Journal cover, print + digital
  • Primary audience: Science subscribers

Project Description

This illustration highlights multiple papers reporting a link found between the gut microbiome and one’s response to cancer immunotherapy. The studies show that in mice and humans with certain cancers, individuals with a highly diverse gut microbiome have more success with immunotherapy treatment. I have illustrated a diverse microbiome by creating a wide variety of bacterial shapes and colors. While the color palette is diverse, the overall warm hues unify the piece and contribute to the promising tone of the science. I included the context of the gut by creating a simple villus landscape in the background. A short depth of field prevents the highly textured villi from distracting from the similarly highly textured bacteria. Lastly, the bacteria swarm into the scene taking the shape of a cancer awareness ribbon, completing the story about gut microbiome and cancer.