Signals Blog

You would be hard-pressed to find a Canadian stem cell scientist who doesn’t know that Drs. Jim Till and Ernest McCulloch advanced medical research across the globe with their discovery, in 1961, of blood stem cells at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital, today the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Recently, a group of artists, doctors, scientists and educators launched an art exhibit based on Till and McCulloch. The group, NASCENT Art Science Collective, created portraits of the two men, produced drawings and designed banners to honour these pioneers and their ground-breaking work.

Science artist Emei Ma, of Toronto, calls her piece “Tagging Stem Cells”(see examples below) and says it is based on the 1963 Nature paper by Becker, McCulloch and Till.

exhibit side viewproliferate

The exhibit was shown at the Museum of Health Care in Kingston, Ontario, but you can view the online version here.

The NASCENT group says its motivation is “exploring the interface between social hardship, technological advance and health.” Toronto scientist and artist Radha Chaddah, profiled here and elsewhere on Signals, creates beautiful works of art from photographing cells. On her site, Radha says she is making art because she wishes “to explore the beauty and complexity of the unseen world using the power of scientific discovery and methodology.” And, “I aim to draw the public gaze to the realm of science. Curiosity, ingenuity and desire have led us to a place where the merging of disciplines drives our transformation.”


CCRM is also motivated to share the beauty of stem cell art. Again this year, it will be hosting Cells I See and encouraging scientists to unleash their creative side. Here are seven reasons why you should participate in this year’s contest. And one important eighth reason: the prize money has been increased to $750 (Grand Prize) and $500 (People’s Choice). The prizes will be awarded at this year’s Till & McCulloch Meetings in Whistler, BC.

Last year, Dr. Till was in attendance as he remains very engaged with the stem cell community. He is even active on Twitter @jimtill if you want to follow him. Sadly, Dr. McCulloch passed away in 2011. The Till & McCulloch Meetings were inaugurated in 2012.

Art science collaborations – #sciart as it is known on Twitter – are popular and prolific. NASCENT founders Wendy Wobeser and Elizabeth Greisman discuss the process and their motivation in this video.



Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at) We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.