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Illinois IGB


Art of Science Gallery 13



Art of Science image titled Eternal Return
Eternal Return

Scientist Collaborators Elizabeth Rowland, Chris Brooke, and Collin Kieffer

Collin Kieffer Group

UltraMicroscope II Lightsheet Microscope with Imaris

Funded by the UIUC Microbiology Start-up funds, DARPA


Every year, many of us make a beeline to the nearest flu vaccine clinic. Although large-scale vaccination efforts for the flu have existed since 1945, every year researchers have to develop new versions of these vaccines. These new formulations are necessary because the influenza virus is continuously evolving, changing how our immune systems see it. Although it is impossible to know when the virus first infected humans, some of the earliest records date back to 6,000 BC. For over eight millenia, our immune systems have been locked in a battle with the influenza virus.

The two images represent the two sides of the story: how our bodies fight the virus, and how researchers work hard to develop new therapies to help us. The artist created the first image by layering her watercolor paintings, which were inspired by the painted ceilings in the Vatican museums that feature the many wars between angels and demons. The second image is based on the researcher’s actual data from mouse lungs that were infected with the influenza virus. Although the battle may seem like a stalemate, the undeterred researchers continue to fight, preventing a million flu-related illnesses every year.