An example of cultured neurons differentiated from human adult-derived pluripotent stem cells. Photo by Associate Professor Mirella Dottori.

Local scientist and artist team up for stem cell infused art project

 A new multidisciplinary art project will explore how our brain receives electrical signals through stem cell growth.

Associate Professor Mirella Dottori from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and artist Dr Trish Adams are bringing together their expertise in science and the visual arts respectively for this collaboration.

Associate Professor Dottori is a neuroscientist with expertise in human stem cell biology and cellular models of brain development, as well as neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr Trish Adams is a visual artist and arts researcher.

Together the pair plan to explore the artistic possibilities of the human sensory systems through stem cell regeneration.

Dr Trish Adams. Photo by Mark Newsham.

Dr Trish Adams. Photo by Mark Newsham.

“My aim is that by reinterpreting these areas of cutting-edge scientific data from the perspective of a visual artist, I can create a unique range of sensual, interactive art installations to be experienced by the viewer,” said Dr Trish Adams.

“From my perspective as a hearing impaired artist the sense of hearing is particularly significant. I find it exciting that these artwork outcomes are dependent on the new knowledge gained during this scientific research collaboration,” she added.

The collaborative process between artist and scientist is the main focus generating ‘new hybrid knowledge’.

“This collaborative project is very exciting and innovative. From my perspective as a scientist, it provides a unique opportunity to use art as a medium to share our research in stem cells and the sensory system with the public. It will showcase our studies in a manner that is beyond words,” said Associate Professor Mirella Dottori.

“It’s hoped that these hybrid outcomes reach another type of audience, thus actually expanding the exposure of the science within the community at large,” said Dr Trish Adams.

Funding for the project was made available through the Australian Network for Art and Technology, an organisation dedicated to bringing artists and scientists together to propel research and innovation.

Associate Professor Mirella Dottori. Photo by Trudy Simpkin.

Associate Professor Mirella Dottori. Photo by Trudy Simpkin.

This collaborative art/science project will involve:

Laboratory research

  • Extracting adult stem cells from Dr Trish Adam’s own body for experimental purposes – a continuation of my trademark ‘human guinea pig’ methodology
  • Converting these stem cells into neurons and inner ear hair cells through laboratory interventions
  • Exploring the development and movement of these neurons and hair cells using imaging analyses.
  • Examining the dynamic functionality of these neurons and hair cells by performing electrophysiology.

Artistic interpretation

  • Reinterpreting the experimental visual and sonic data from the laboratory research, detailed above.
  • Creatively reconfiguring this data in the form of audience-immersive interactive artworks.

Dr Trish Adams and Associate Professor Mirella Dottori have been invited to participate in the art/science component of the Arts Electronica Festival in Wollongong in 2020.

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867


Top photo: An example of cultured neurons differentiated from human adult-derived pluripotent stem cells. Photo by Associate Professor Mirella Dottori.

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