Proteins are the essential building blocks of life, and the shape of a protein is critical for its function. Aquaria simplifies the process of gleaning insight from protein structures. It extends the reach of known structures by matching their sequence to protein sequences of unknown structure.
What happens after we eat food? Our body produces insulin to stimulate our cells to convert the sugar from that food into usable energy or store it as fat. Thanks to high-throughput mass spectrometry, this essential process can now be observed in great detail. But the resulting flood of data, encoding a cascade of molecular signaling events at eight time points, is hard to understand.
“If we can’t magically create bioinformaticians, how can we make better use of their time?” We wanted to let regular biologists explore genome data in the context of phenotypes, so they could use their knowledge and scientific intuition to generate new hypotheses and get a quick initial confirmation. They would then follow up only the best leads with their computational colleagues for thorough analysis.
The core idea for the functionality of the software came out of initial interviews with the genetic testing lab: when the analysts had more detailed information about the patients’ symptoms, they found related variants much more often.
We use the visible differences between individuals to make quick judgements and group assignments. What we can’t see is what causes the differences – the genetic makeup of each person, and the differences between one genome and another.
For this personal project, I wanted find a concise form that makes genomic data visible and shows identifiable differences between genomic signatures, without getting hung up on details.
I grew up in Munich, Germany, and started my career as an artist, painting billboards, murals, and theater sets.
After meeting my wife while traveling, I moved to the US and got my first real design job, illustrating and designing publications for the US Environmental Protection Agency. That was when I was first asked to design and build a website — I was hooked: interactivity!
Since 2007, I've been fortunate to combine design work with another passion, science. Starting at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, I learned a lot about biology and bioinformatics. Since then, I've been designing software user interfaces and data visualizations for scientific research and clinical applications. My award-winning work has been recognized as innovative and helpful to the biological community.
Now I continue to build tools as Lead Visualization Engineer at Cellarity, a biotech startup in Somerville, MA.
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