Explaining complex biological processes to the general public is a very important, yet tricky challenge. With all the specialized language and acronyms that scientists use, it’s really difficult for the non-scientist to visualize the microscopic life of cells.
That’s where video animation comes to the rescue. As Ben Paylor, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, told Science magazine:
In an animated medium, almost anything is explainable within 60 seconds.
He should know. A week before last, Ben and his co-producer Mike Long, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, received a much-deserved award from the National Science Foundation for their 1-minute StemCellShorts animation series. Each short answers one of three fundamental questions: What are stem cells? What are embryonic stem cells? What are induced pluripotent stem cells?
Canada’s Stem Cell Network helped fund the project and each video includes voice over narration by Canadian stem cell experts lending an added level of credibility. As Mike Long mentioned in the Science magazine article:
It was pretty amazing to hear Jim Till explain the experiments that he and Ernest McCulloch performed in the 1960s, which led to the discovery of stem cells.
The videos are terrific and I think both stem cell novices and experts alike should check them out. David Murawsky’s engaging animation concisely and faithfully depict the concepts that Ben and Mike scripted out. Also play close attention to the sound design by James Wallace, which really helps make the imagery come alive.
If the videos leave you wanting more then you’re in luck. Ben says they’ve got more batches of stem cell videos in the works:
We are currently in mid-production of an additional 5 videos focusing on tissue-specific stem cells and stem cell tourism that are being co-sponsored by the Stem Cell Network and Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, as well as an additional 4 videos being produced with a group from the University of Calgary. These are scheduled to be released in the weeks leading up to the International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting in Vancouver this summer. We are very excited to continue moving this project forward!
Congrats and good luck, Ben and Mike!