Engaging the Public in Modernising Medical Microbiology Through Art

Online Exhibition – ‘Gut Flora’ – showcasing the artwork of Researcher Nicola Fawcett can be found here 

Click here to go directly to the gallery

Click here to go directly to the gallery

Modernising Medical Microbiology ‘Artist in Residence’: Anna Dumitriu 


Anna Dumitriu is an Artist in Residence for the  Modernising Medical Microbiology Consortium. As part of her residency she is shadowing researchers in this consortium with a particular focus on M. tuberculosis, S. aureus (and its drug resistant form MRSA) and antibiotic-resistant infection. The aim of the project is to develop new artworks, investigate the aesthetic and cultural implications of the research and to communicate the impact of new technologies in microbiology and how they will improve understanding, diagnosis, treatment and control of infections.

Artworks from the series have been showcased internationally including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan, The V & A Museum and The Wellcome Collection in London, UK and at Kapelica Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her work about MMM has been featured in The Lancet, on BBC and in The guardian.

“The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis”, is an ‘open lab’ workshop, and a one day symposium which was originally exhibited at Watermans in London, UK, funded by The Wellcome Trust, and is now touring internationally. This exhibition takes the form of an art/science investigation into mankind’s strange relationship with ‘the Romantic Disease’ Tuberculosis (TB) from early superstitions about the disease, through the development of antibiotics, to the latest research into whole genome sequencing of bacteria. Read more here.

Anna has also created a “The MRSA Quilt” that tells the story of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) research and diagnosis through a textile work stained with MRSA bacteria (grown on chromogenic agar) as it undergoes a number of commonly used tests. The final work has been autoclaved and made safe. It has been made in collaboration with Dr John Paul, Dr James Price and Rosie Sedgwick.

Why create a MRSA quilt?

There is a significant gap between the public’s understanding of the issue of hospital acquired pathogens or ‘superbugs’ as the press describe them. MRSA is a mutated form of Staphylococcus aureus which is part of our normal bacterial flora and thought to be carried by around 25% of the population (this figure could potentially be much higher as it may simply be that our testing methods are flawed). MRSA has acquired genes which mean that it can withstand treatment with Methicillin based antibiotics. However Vancomycin is usually still effective. MRSA is not only acquired from hospitals, there is also community acquired MRSA. In hospitals patients are more susceptible to infections if they are immune compromised or have operation woulds hence the risk of MRSA there. Patients are routinely tested. However transmission vectors (how the bug moves from person to person) are not properly understood and the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project is now using whole genome mapping of bacteria to try to understand far more about this important factor.

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