The Art of the Virus

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By Diana Vacchiano, Marketing Coordinator

I always love telling our virologists that science is an art. Whether or not they agree with me is up to them, but now I have a little more proof:

As a former art minor and chronic sketcher, it is hard for me to NOT be drawn toward anything artistic. A few days ago, as I walking by Brittany Beattie’s desk (Brittany serves as ABI’s invaluable Production Coordinator), I was instantly captivated by the image on her computer screen.

“What kind of a graphic is that???? I asked her.

“It’s not a graphic, it’s a blown glass sculpture of HIV,??? Brittany responded.

With my nose practically touching her screen: “That’s glass????

When we were finished talking, I hustled back to my desk and Googled “Virus Glass Sculptures.??? I eventually found my way to the following article on former engineer turned artist Luke Jerram. Jerram, with the expertise of virologist Andrew Davidson and a team of glass blowers, have managed to produce a catalog of intricate glass sculptures recreating the details, shapes, and complexities of common viruses.

Jerram has even dubbed his own work as “Glass Microbiology.??? He is aided by veteran glassblowers Kim George, Brian George, and Norman Veitch in perfecting his renditions of HIV, Swine flu, and many of the other viral threats that impact human health.  To see Jerrmam’s work, visit his website at, and for a look at his complete gallery of Glass Microbiology:

I was surprised by the detailed precision of each glass sculpture, and how Jerram had managed to vividly capture the unique beauty and shape of each virus, viruses that, when looking at them closely, seemed incapable of causing sickness and disease, and sometimes, death. As a sapient co-worker of mine once said, “Even in great darkness, there is beauty.???

Below is a perfect example of this particular brand of dark beauty, see our electron microscopy image for HIV-1. At ABI, we strive to capture high-quality images of the infectious disease antigens we manufacture in our own laboratories. Utilizing various techniques, our scientists are able to conduct extensive analysis for virus characterization. To learn more about our “artistry??? and the custom EM services we offer, visit us at