What can we learn about how the human cell by studying complex urban systems, and how might we rethink the future of cities by studying cells?
IN EARLY 2017, the World-building Media Lab (WbML) led by Professor Alex McDowell at USC School of Cinematic Arts, began this major collaboration with the Bridge Institute, to create a fully experiential virtual world of a single Pancreatic Beta Cell, using the metaphor of the complex systems of a city. The continuing goal is to use storytelling and world building to immerse both the lay-person and expert and engage them in levels of detail that are both scientifically accurate and approachable.
By creating a virtual world inside a cell, based on the structure and function of a pancreatic beta cell, this art-science collaboration will allow people to explore a rich biological world while engaging concepts, pathways, and implications through narrative, all backed by scientific rigor.
The World in a Cell project brings together a broadly interdisciplinary team of scientists, storytellers, artists, programmers, and conceptual thinkers, all with a proven track record of creating the next wave of content and experiences. This project contains aspects of healthcare, education, and STEAM and their outcomes, as well as providing an opportunity to further empower women moving into the scientific education and training pipelines. This project is also intended to reverse the City/Cell metaphor, using the PBC to investigate the diverse ways nature and her processes might inform and be applied to future urban design. We envision that our “World in a Cell” can serve as an extensible framework/platform that will allow other scientists to add their results, expand details, and connect related work.
Bridge Institute Team
Raymond Stevens – Director of the Bridge Institute, Executive Producer
Todd Richmond – Co-Principal Investigator
Helen Berman – Faculty
Kyle McClary – Graduate Student Lead, Project Founder
Jitin Singla – Graduate Student Lead
Kylie Burdsall – Undergraduate Student Lead
Sanraj Mittal – Undergraduate Student Researcher