Art and Science in DePaolo Lab

Microbiome, probiotics and stool transplants (also know as fecal microbiota transplant or FMT) have entered pop culture and the mainstream media at a rapid rate, but is correct and accurate information being circulated?  In an era where Tweets reach hundreds of thousands of people instantaneously, and where information is always at our finger tips, it is critical that the information regarding health, disease and the microbiome come from legitimate sources providing factual information. 

As part of the Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutics (CMiST), DePaolo Lab will also dedicate some of it time and resources to working with artists and using their projects to help advance our research.  CMiST and DePaolo Lab will establish relationships with the UW art and film departments to produce events featuring projects that will help to educate our local communities.  An important piece of this initiative is to reach under-served populations regarding the importance of nutritional health and the microbiome.

As part of this initiative, world-renowned bio-artist Kathy High will be doing a recurring artist residency in DePaolo Lab.  Kathy is an artist, but also a person who suffers from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Her passion for trying to understand this complex disease is part of her art.  Kathy has been commissioned to do an art exhibition in the fall of 2017 with a focus on IBD and the microbiome.

Kathy has shown her work across the US, as well as Australia, Germany, Poland, Spain, Ireland and the UK, and is a Guggenheim fellowship recipient.  For more about Kathy, please visit her website at

Current Art project: Family_Bio_Crest_

Family_Bio_Crest is a research project looking at the microbiota and micro-organisms that inhabit our gut using art as the medium to communicate the findings, "My goal is to illustrate that the gut microbiota is shared and influenced by those living in a communal environment. Through this project, I hope to discover if family members share similar (or dissimilar) gut microbes because they share a living environment and possibly share a gut bacterial / fungal community signature and profile." As part of this project, a 3D “family (bio)crest” noting the significant similarities will be awarded to those families who donate fecal samples.

The Crests

Family crests were created based on land ownership and stature.  These “bio-crests” will be created based on the existing bio-signature of one’s family. Oral and fecal samples will be taken from families and cultured at the Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutics (CMiST) at the University of Washington, Seattle. “Families” includes partners / spouses, children, parents and pets.  Similarities in bacterial / fungal profiles will determine the signature crest of each family unit.  Crests will be produced in a petri dish. Bacteria from your family’s fecal samples will be isolated, sub-cultured and then painted in various shapes on an agar canvas to form the graphics of the crest. Specific shapes will be designated to represent the presence of a particular bacteria. A photograph of the petri dish, your family’s bio-crest, will be taken at its most productive moment to preserve it. These petri dishes represent the family unit sampled. A bacterial family tree will also be developed.

“Family_Bio_Crest_” is sponsored by The Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutics (CMiST) and DePaolo Lab at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Center for Microbiome Sciences & Therapeutics (CMiST)
1959 NE Pacific Street
Health Sciences Building, K-wing, Room K327
Seattle, WA 98195