2022 AMI Online Salon

A Matter of Life and Cell Death

Project Details

  • Entrant Name:  Ke Er Zhang
  • Client: Faculty advisor:   Derek Ng
  • Copyright:  Ke Er Zhang, 2021
  • Medium/software used: Autodesk Maya, UCSF Chimera, Protein Imager, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Procreate
  • Final presentation format: Print (11″x17″ magazine spread)
  • Primary Audience: Educated lay audience

Project Description

Apoptosis is a cellular process vital for human function and development. This two-page spread, designed for a popular science magazine, illustrates how BCL-2 protein overexpression alters the fate of a cell, dysregulates and prevents apoptosis, and, ultimately, leads to the development of human diseases like leukemia. In addition, this spread visualizes the molecular mechanism in which the drug Venetoclax can improve clinical outcomes by displacing pro-apoptotic proteins, which selectively inhibits BCL-2. The educational goal of this assignment was to acquire, evaluate, and integrate molecular data from multiple sources (PDB, journal articles, UniProt, and PubChem) in order to craft a compelling visual narrative of a biomolecular phenomenon. A cellular landscape with Van der Waals surface rendering was used to illustrate the environment in which the mechanism of apoptosis occurs. A different visual treatment (toon shading) was used to illustrate the mechanism of Venetoclax in order to separate the two stories. To ensure legibility, black text was placed over a white background whenever possible.