Scientific Collaboration Illustrated on Latest BiophysJ Cover

Klaus Gerwert, one of the authors of the latest paper to grace the cover of Biophysical Journal, describes the image in the post below. The image is based on the paper N-Ras forms dimers at POPC membranes, authored by Jörn Güldenhaupt, Till Rudack, Peter Bachler, Daniel Mann, Gemma Triola, Herbert Waldmann, Carsten Kötting, and Klaus Gerwert.

Our scientific findings are the outcome of an intensive collaboration between the authors from different fields, so the image was a cooperative work as well. Our work has very illustrative results and therefore it was without question to submit a cover art suggestion. The main message of the article is that by combining different theoretical and experimental approaches we identified dimerization of the membrane attached Ras protein.

In the beginning we collected our ideas about how to convert this into an image. Through molecular dynamics simulations you already get nice molecule images, but in order to get artwork you need more. We got the help of Kay Thust, a scientist who is very experienced in using the graphics program Blender. He amended the simulation structures, which were modified by Till Rudack, with the help of PyMOL. Then, all authors came together and optimized the first sketch of a dimer on an ATR crystal with illuminized flurophores until we got a very fancy image. That the outcome of our work is now published on the cover of  Biophysical Journal makes us proud because this makes our science viewable to a greater public.

We would not consider ourselves as artists because we believe that it is part of science to create an illustrative concluding figure. This is of great importance in order to mediate the main idea of the scientific result.

Beside this, doing some artwork is an enjoyable variety compared to scientific daily routine. So, we will go on and submitting further cover art suggestions for the upcoming publications.

Recent research results and cover images can be found on http://www.bph.rub.de/

– Klaus Gerwert

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