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# genomics: complicated

PNAS Cover: Earth BioGenome Project

# Genes that make us sick

It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can have the husk of everything for money, but not the kernel.
— Arne Garborg

I have recently had the opportunity to contribute to The Objects that Power the Global Economy, a book by Quartz.

The book is about objects that have impact on our world and our lives. "Each chapter of this book examines an object that is driving radical change in the global economy: how we communicate, what we eat, the way we spend our money. The stories are told through global reporting, original photography and illustration by award-winning artists, contributions from business visionaries, data visualization, and interactive features." (Quartz).

## the posters

The human genome is shown as a spiral, starting at the top with chromosome 1 and proceeding clockwise. The spiral is formed by 10,087 segments that correspond to 286,000 bases each. Segments that contain genes implicated in disease are indicated by dots, sized by the number of genes. Chromosomes X and Y are not shown.

White on black, full version. ( BUY ARTWORK )
White on black, mysterious version. ( BUY ARTWORK )
Color, full version. ( BUY ARTWORK )
Color, mysterious version. ( BUY ARTWORK )
Black on white, full version. ( BUY ARTWORK )
Black on white, mysterious version. ( BUY ARTWORK )

## where disease hides in the genome

My illustration is of the human genome with a focus on the genes that have been implicated in disease.

We have about 30,000 genes and about half of these play some role in disease.

You can peruse what we know about the connection between genetics and illness at the Online Mendelean Inheritance of Man database. For example, a cursory search for "cancer" results in over 3,500 entries.

It's important to realize that these aren't genes that cause disease—its misregulation and mutations in them that are associated with disease (causality is complicated).

## the visualization

The illustration shows the genome as a single line, wound in an Archimedean spiral. Chromosomes 1–22 are shown binned into about 10,000 regions along the spiral. Regions that have genes associated with disease are marked with dots—the size of the dot shows how many such genes are found. Each region corresponds to about 286,000 bases.

In about 73% of the 286 kb regions, there are no genes. In about 18%, there is a single gene and in roughly 11% two genes or more.

$regions genes 7,321 0 1,812 1 556 2 221 3 85 4 93 5+$

Winding the genome up in a spiral creates a compact representation. Squishing a line onto a page can be tricky.

Luckily, space filling curves like the Hilbert curve are very efficient at doing this. I've previously shown the genome along a Hilbert curve for a Scientific American Graphic Science page.

### the artwork

In the book, the image is printed on a black background.

The human genome is shown as a spiral, starting at the top with chromosome 1 and proceeding clockwise. The spiral is formed by 10,087 segments that correspond to 286,000 bases each. Segments that contain genes implicated in disease are indicated by dots, sized by the number of genes. Chromosomes X and Y are not shown. (zoom)

# Cancer Cell cover

Sat 23-04-2022

My cover design on the 11 April 2022 Cancer Cell issue depicts depicts cellular heterogeneity as a kaleidoscope generated from immunofluorescence staining of the glial and neuronal markers MBP and NeuN (respectively) in a GBM patient-derived explant.

LeBlanc VG et al. Single-cell landscapes of primary glioblastomas and matched explants and cell lines show variable retention of inter- and intratumor heterogeneity (2022) Cancer Cell 40:379–392.E9.

My Cancer Cell kaleidoscope cover (volume 40, issue 4, 11 April 2022). (more)

Browse my gallery of cover designs.

A catalogue of my journal and magazine cover designs. (more)

# Nature Biotechnology cover

Sat 23-04-2022

My cover design on the 4 April 2022 Nature Biotechnology issue is an impression of a phylogenetic tree of over 200 million sequences.

Konno N et al. Deep distributed computing to reconstruct extremely large lineage trees (2022) Nature Biotechnology 40:566–575.

My Nature Biotechnology phylogenetic tree cover (volume 40, issue 4, 4 April 2022). (more)

Browse my gallery of cover designs.

A catalogue of my journal and magazine cover designs. (more)

# Nature cover — Gene Genie

Sat 23-04-2022

My cover design on the 17 March 2022 Nature issue depicts the evolutionary properties of sequences at the extremes of the evolvability spectrum.

Vaishnav ED et al. The evolution, evolvability and engineering of gene regulatory DNA (2022) Nature 603:455–463.

My Nature squiggles cover (volume 603, issue 7901, 17 March 2022). (more)

Browse my gallery of cover designs.

A catalogue of my journal and magazine cover designs. (more)

# Happy 2022 $\pi$ Day—three one four: a number of notes

Mon 14-03-2022

Celebrate $\pi$ Day (March 14th) and finally hear what you've been missing.

“three one four: a number of notes” is a musical exploration of how we think about mathematics and how we feel about mathematics. It tells stories from the very beginning (314…) to the very (known) end of π (...264) as well as math (Wallis Product) and math jokes (Feynman Point), repetition (nn) and zeroes (null).

Listen to $\pi$ in the style of 20th century classical music. (details)

The album is scored for solo piano in the style of 20th century classical music – each piece has a distinct personality, drawn from styles of Boulez, Feldman, Glass, Ligeti, Monk, and Satie.

Each piece is accompanied by a piku (or πku), a poem whose syllable count is determined by a specific sequence of digits from π.

Check out art from previous years: 2013 $\pi$ Day and 2014 $\pi$ Day, 2015 $\pi$ Day, 2016 $\pi$ Day, 2017 $\pi$ Day, 2018 $\pi$ Day, 2019 $\pi$ Day, 2020 $\pi$ Day and 2021 $\pi$ Day.

# PNAS Cover — Earth BioGenome Project

Fri 28-01-2022

My design appears on the 25 January 2022 PNAS issue.

My PNAS cover design captures the vision of the Earth BioGenome Project — to sequence everything. (more)

The cover shows a view of Earth that captures the vision of the Earth BioGenome Project — understanding and conserving genetic diversity on a global scale. Continents from the Authagraph projection, which preserves areas and shapes, are represented as a double helix of 32,111 bases. Short sequences of 806 unique species, sequenced as part of EBP-affiliated projects, are mapped onto the double helix of the continent (or ocean) where the species is commonly found. The length of the sequence is the same for each species on a continent (or ocean) and the sequences are separated by short gaps. Individual bases of the sequence are colored by dots. Species appear along the path in alphabetical order (by Latin name) and the first base of the first species is identified by a small black triangle.

Lewin HA et al. The Earth BioGenome Project 2020: Starting the clock. (2022) PNAS 119(4) e2115635118.

# The COVID charts — hospitalization rates

Tue 25-01-2022

As part of the COVID Charts series, I fix a muddled and storyless graphic tweeted by Adrian Dix, Canada's Health Minister.

I show you how to fix color schemes to make them colorblind-accessible and effective in revealing patters, how to reduce redundancy in labels (a key but overlooked part of many visualizations) and how to extract a story out of a table to frame the narrative.

Clear titles introduce the graphic, which starts with informative and non-obvious observations of the relationship between age, number of comorbidities, vaccination status and hospitalization rates. Supporting the story is a tidy table that gives you detailed statistics for each demographic. (more)