Glass Lab

Glass Lab

A fusion of art and science, by scientists

At the WTCCB we run an innovative project using fused glass to portray our research.

Research scientists are creative people and in the glass lab they have the opportunity to describe their research using beautiful glass. We create glass pieces that can be used architecturally on walls in buildings, but most often the glass is used at our public engagement events. 

The public really love the glass pieces we make, they are colourful, tactile and beautiful. The glass allows us to start good conversation with the public about our research.


A dividing cell, at the moment of intercision, when the cell membrane is cut. The proteins involved in intercision are tagged with a pink GFP. A dividing cell, at the moment of intercision, when the cell membrane is cut. The proteins involved in intercision are tagged with a pink GFP. Based on work by Eric Schirner’s lab.










A dividing yeast cell, showing a central spindle in green. Based on work by Ken Sawin’s lab.








Fused glass created by the Welburn lab being used with the public at Hong Kong Science Festival


















Glass Life Exhibition

Glass Life is an art exhibition that explores cell biology. This stunning exhibition was installed at The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Glass houses at the end of June 2016 and remained in residence until 5th December 2016. The exhibition was based in the temperate glass house, which has two levels. Upstairs on the bridge we had a series of works based on laboratory equipment called 96 well ploate. Downstairs we had a variety of pieces that visually represented the things we invesitgate.

At the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, our research mission is to understand living systems at a cellular level, making discoveries that advance knowledge of normal and abnormal cell function and thus health and disease. This exhibition explores how we do our research and what we are researching.

The central piece to the exhibition was a large microtubule sculpture. Microtubules are tiny biological tubes that are vital for cell function. They are one of many important structure that we study at our centre, and one of the more effective targest for chemotherapy medicine. Microtubules are essential in cell division, and cancer is essentially a disease of cell division.

Many of the other artworks downstairs showed cells dividing, probably the most important life process that we study.

There were sculptures representing microplates: these are a key toll in cell biology, and they come in 96, 384 and 1536 well sizes.

Each well is like a tiny test-tube, a slightly different experiement is run in each one, and a different results can occur.

The glass sculptures represent the microplates, the variations across the glass represent the different results from each well.

Different sculptures represent different experiements. Some experiments look promising, some were a disaster.

The larger scupltures were made by Sarah Keer-Keer and Laura Reed. All the small sculptures that describe research were made by the researchers themselves supported by Laura and Sarah.


Links to older Exhibitions:

Potential Difference 
University Visitor Centre - dividing cells