This collaborative project by a scientist and artist from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine asks the reader to consider the aesthetics of human disease, a dynamically powerful force of nature that acts without regard to race, religion, or culture. Here more than sixty medical science professionals present visually stunning patterns of different diseases affecting various areas of the human anatomy. Captured with a variety of imaging technology ranging from spectral karyotyping to scanning electron microscopy, we see beauty in the delicate lacework of fungal hyphae invading a blood vessel, the structure of the normal cerebellum, and the desperate drive of metastasizing cancer cells. However, appreciation of the imagery produced by disease, which smacks of modern art, is bittersweet; we simultaneously experience the beauty of the natural world and the pain of those living with these disease processes. Ultimately, this series of images will leave the viewer with an understanding and appreciation of visual beauty inherent within the field of modern medical science.
Norman Barker is an Associate Professor of Pathology and Art as Applied to Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He specializes in photomicroscopy and macro photography. Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue is a Professor of Pathology, Oncology, and Surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. She is the principal investigator of an NIH-funded laboratory focused on molecular genetics of gastrointestinal cancers.