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The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS)

May 20, 2022

We all know the story of Sir Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin. Similarly, the X-Ray, Insulin, and many more medical and scientific breakthroughs can be traced back to “happy accidents”. Each time the scientist attempted to do something else, found an odd thread and pulled it. Had they not seen it, or decided not to pull it, our modern human experience would have been drastically different.

These types of anomalies and variations happen all the time. But we don’t always embrace them. In fact, many of us go out of our way to avoid them altogether. And when they do occur, we may be reluctant to be “distracted” by them. Much of our culture values focus and simplicity. “Eyes on the prize”, “Keep it Simple Stupid”, and all that.

But how many penicillins, X-rays, and insulins remain undiscovered because of our “efficiency”?

Today’s guest takes a different approach. Anna Dumitriu is an award-winning British artist who works with BioArt, sculpture, installation, and digital media to explore our relationship to infectious diseases, synthetic biology, and robotics. Anna prefers to “reveal the strangeness” of things… to help us confront the unusual and uncomfortable … to acknowledge the complexity and the beauty around us.

Anna’s curiosity and her drive to confront the complexities of our world have taken her on a truly fascinating journey. She’s edited genes with CRISPR, extracted DNA from killed Yesinia pestis bacteria for her Plague Dress, explored the ethics of artificial intelligence, and much more. Anna calls this “unnecessary research” and she believes it creates opportunities for discovery. It puts her and her colleagues in a place where happy accidents are more likely to occur.

We explore why and how Anna does what she does. How her path evolved and led to working side-by-side with scientists in the lab. And why you just might want to consider doing a bit more unnecessary research in your next project.

For full show notes and links, visit: