SCIENCE+ THE IMAGINATION
“Science is imagination in the service of the verifiable truth, and that service is indeed communal.”
——- Gerald Edelman
The highly objective, hypothesis-driven, fact-gathering world of science has been keeping a secret. It's operation also relies upon Imagination and Conjecture. The genius codebreaker and Father of Modern Computing, Alan Turing, put it this way:
“The popular view that scientists proceed inexorably from well-established fact to well-established fact, never being influenced by any unproved conjecture, is quite mistaken. Provided it is made clear which are proved facts and which are conjectures, no harm can result. Conjectures are of great importance since they suggest useful lines of research”
Without speculation, how else could Turing have produced perhaps his greatest contribution to science; not in machine learning, but in biology. Towards the end of his life, he developed a theoretical model which aimed to understand how form is generated during development in multi-cellular organisms i.e. he modeled morphogenesis. What is remarkable about this work is that although Turing died in 1954, his mathematical models, which theorize the ways in which soluble factors might impact the generation of form, turn out to be accurate at an experimental level, even as recently as 2017.
Since 1988, we have used experimental and speculative models to determine how solid-state factors in the extracellular matrix (ECM) architectures, that support and direct life from outside the cell, specify 3-D form, and how the language of form regulates gene expression and differentiated functions in the lung vasculature and breast epithelium over time.
For example. in one Sabin+Jones LabStudio collaboration, which importantly involved Andrew Lucia and Annette Fierro. we first generated a computational simulation of the physical forces transmitted between cells and the ECM with which they associate during branching and networking behaviors by cells forming capillaries in the lung over time. This 4D data was subsequently manifested as a physical 3D model with time being represented in a series of physical and inter-connected "sections". In essence, we produced an analog “Datascape” of simulated forces based on predictive and experiemental models.
This physical model, composed of more than 75,000 cable zip ties, each representing a datapoint, was subsequently was exhibited at Ars Electronica’s Future Lab during 2009-10. It also featured on the cover of a seminal text celebrating the genius of Alan Turing. The same image won the American Association for the Advancement of Science and National Science Foundation 2009 International Visualization Prize, and appeared on the cover of Science magazine.
You can learn more about the project, called Branching Morphogenesis, by clicking here.
Other LabStudio and MEDstudio projects can be discovered in the COLLAB+ section of this website.
©2018 Peter Lloyd Jones
TECH: FIBERS IN HEALTH + DISEASE
“The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.” - Edward Teller
“All creative people want to do the unexpected.” - Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood actess & Inventor of early WiFi
The Studio Scientist not only embraces and curates advanced and unexpected technologies, but is actively involved in their invention, development and deployment. A venture into Smart Fibers and Textiles is a natural extension for our group given: (1) Our three decades of research into biological fibers in the extracellular matrix (ECM); (2) Our position as a unique entity introducing DESIGN into MEDICINE, and (3) A collaboration started in 1992 with Genevieve Dion, who now heads the AFFOA-funded Fabric Discovery Center at Drexel University in Philadelphia. In 2016, we became the only medical agency within a National public-private network to advance the field of smart wearables and fibbers. The DOD awarded $135m to the network, and The Studio Scientist was honored to be a part of this including presentations to The Governors of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Below is a 2016 news story about our role in helping to establish “The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA)” network which was valued at $135m at it’s launch. In addition to reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post, this local story appeared on the Thomas Jefferson University website where The Studio Scientist served as the first Associate Dean of Emergent Technology and Creative Design in Medicine at The Sidney Kimmel Medical College (2013-)
PHILADELPHIA (April, 2016)– The U.S. Department of Defense, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Drexel University have tapped MEDstudio@JEFF at Thomas Jefferson University as one of 31 academic institutions to partner in a $75 million national research institute that will support American textile manufacturers in bringing sophisticated new materials and textiles to the marketplace. The institute, called Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), will be a national manufacturing resource center for industry and government to draw on the expertise of academic researchers working with new fibers, fabrics and materials and developing the technology that can integrate them into products from active wear to protective armor.
“We are delighted that Thomas Jefferson University, through MEDstudio@JEFF and the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, is a key healthcare member of AFFOA providing the network with clinical development and testing capabilities,” said Mark L. Tykocinski, MD, Provost of Thomas Jefferson University and Dean of Sidney Kimmel Medical College. “This reinforces our continuing efforts to bridge medicine with design.”
Director of MEDstudio@JEFF, Peter Lloyd Jones, PhD, commented on the partnership by saying, “At MEDstudio@JEFF, we believe that radical innovation depends upon entirely new ways of perceiving & interpreting the world around us, and this depends upon anti-disciplinary collaborations with diverse experts. My team and I are extremely proud to be a part of this groundbreaking network and to be conducting this innovative work at Sidney Kimmel Medical College.”
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter formally recognized AFFOA as one of the White House’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (NNMI) in a ceremony at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology today. Through public and private efforts, the NNMI initiative has garnered more than $300 million to boost the value of American-made products on the international market, by using new materials and manufacturing methods.
Through its dynamic network, AFFOA partners will collectively catalyze innovation, relationships with industry, and all aspects of product, process and systems design from ideation to mass production. The government hopes the initiative will create thousands of new jobs in the American workforce. “We are forming an entirely new system and mental model, and one that will help drive the US economy while significantly improving the lives of patients,” said Jones.
The AFFOA group includes the likes of Cornell University, The Ohio State University, University of Michigan and University of California – Davis. It counts 16 companies as industry partners, including NIKE, Microsoft, Good Year, The North Face, Bose and Medtronic. In addition, 26 start-up incubators and venture capital groups, including Angel Capital Associations, Westbury Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners have pledged support to AFFOA.
Thomas Jefferson University’s MEDstudio@JEFF is part of a mid-Atlantic research hub led by Drexel University that links research institutions including Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, Temple University, at Philadelphia University and the University of Delaware to manufacturing and investment partners DuPont, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeast Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia Office of Manufacturing and Industry and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The mid-Atlantic cohort will lead investigations into modeling, designing and predicting the utility of new fibers, yarns and materials, as well as using those new materials to build prototypes of functional fabrics for apparel, healthcare, transportation, consumer electronics, architecture, and the defense industry.
©2018 Peter Lloyd Jones
Jones lab: Scanning EM of collagen fibers
ENGINEERING+ SPACES THAT HEAL
“I don’t want to undress architecture, I want to enrich it and add layers to it. Basically like a Gothic cathedral, where the ornament and the structure form an alliance.”
—- Cecil Balmond
THE BEACON for HEALTH & WELLNESS: FOCUS ON THE RAIL PARK at Lubert Plaza, Thomas Jefferson University
In the U.S., 75% of our lives are spent in a state of good health and wellness, yet as a nation we spend 75% of our health-care budget treating illness. One way to improve the economics and practice of US health care is to re-design the ways and means of keeping people healthier and in a state of wellness for longer. This includes changing the way in which med students are taught, selecting different and more diverse types of people to become physicians, and the design of healthy public spaces that promote well-being through assemblages of form, materiality, color, light and sound. Smart prescriptive wearable devices that record health data in non-intrusive ways. Tireless, semi-autonomous machines working as medical assistants that remain error-free, and virtual reality medical modalities that manage pain without the need for medication; these are just some of the innovative moves that will transform healthcare, and that we have been prototyping as a way to re-engineer the healthcare system and personal wellness.
Since 2014, we have participated in DesignPhiladelphia as a way of bringing these types of ideas to the public. In 2016, The Studio Scientist partnered once more with Jenny Sabin (now at Cornell) to create a space that highlighted our promotion of the future Rail Park. THE BEACON for Health and Wellness Future with it's spotlight on The Rail Park introduced and humanized medical futures through performance, while acting as a catalyst to encourage healthcare professionals and the public alike to collectively discover solutions to fix the broken healthcare system.
THE BEACON represents a prototypic architectural and environmental installation that senses, stimulates, advances, and advocates for a future where both low- and high-tech sustainable design passively improves physical and mental health without the need for gadgetry, or traditional pharmaceutical solutions. It represents an imminent future where VR and AR can be prescribed to function as pain management devices instead, or programmed as reminders of the past for treatment of dementia.
What else did THE BEACON accomplish? the narrow 18th century streets of certain sections of Philadelphia, emergency services are sometimes unable to deliver care to patients who are sick or injured at home, and who are inaccessible via ambulance due to road conditions. Drones carrying supplies for medics, who would then traverse the city quickly by bike, would save many lives that are currently lost by traffic problems. To humanize and highlight this technology, we pre-programmed drones bearing custom-made 3D-printed jigs carrying spools of smart fiber.
Design that is attentive to human nature, even in the face of massive and imminent changes in science, medicine and technology, can be accepted by one and all, as demonstrated by THE BEACON, and the parallel 10 day festival of mindfulness, dance, spinning, yoga, bake sales, family picnics, and expert lectures that took place on the Plaza at Jefferson University.
THE BEACON also served as inspiration and as a research prototype for smart fabrics being co-developed by MEDstudio and the Advanced Functional Fibers of America network based at MIT. We aim to produce lightweight, self-powering, rapidly-manufactured, prescriptive devices that simultaneously gather and analyze behavioral, physiological, genetic and molecular data in real time.
As cities repopulate, abandoned urban civic spaces, including Philadelphia’s three-mile-long Rail Park, are being repurposed as vital parklands, reconnecting people and neighborhoods via greenways and bike-paths. Exercise, relaxation, play, and immersion in nature are key ingredients here. Optimistic about the public health benefits of The Rail Park, and wishing to bring a piece of it to our urban plaza last fall, we first conducted a public curated walk on the abandoned viaduct in July. Participants photographed their favorite plants or objects. A catalpa was chosen by popular vote, and tagged with a NASA-derived remote sensor designed to measure changes in leaf volume. After 30 days of real-time analysis, a periodic 18-minute cycle was identified, and this became the basis for the slow periodic light pulse within THE BEACON core. A musical score by Justin Geller was generatively composed using these same data. To let the public know that as health care providers we are here to listen, we provided a free health web-app (www.medstudiobeacon.com) that posed daily questions via its main screen.
See more of THE BEACON and an additional list of credits at http://www.jennysabin.com/the-beacon/
Learn more about The Rail Park at
©2018 Peter Lloyd Jones
Photo from Jenny Sabin Studios
ART+ POPULATION HEALTH
“After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.” — Albert Einstein
“We need human thoughtfulness to help us make sense of the readily available facts. We need human wisdom to help us wrestle with the complex decisions illness forces us to make. To me, this is biggest argument for including humanities as a bedrock part of medical education.” —-Danielle Ofri
In 2017, The Studio Scientist collaborated with artist Tom Judd at DesignPhiladelphia. With the MEDstudio team, their mission was to raise public awareness of hunger. Graphic Medicine as their chosen approach. A picture speaks a thousand words, and so please watch our project video which has been published in Annals of Internal Medicine (April 2018) in a special issue dedicated to Social Determinants of Health.
©2018 Peter Lloyd Jones
The Studio Scientist/Peter Lloyd Jones has always conducted research at the outer limits of what is deemed conventional exampled best by his collaborations with designers including Genevieve Dion (since 1992) and Jenny Sabin, with whom he formed LabsStudio at The University of Pennsylvania.
Most recently, as the first Associate Dean of Design in Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University, Jones brought a design curriculum and ethos to the medical academy. In the next section, Provost Mark Tykocinski discusses with Jones ways in which he envisages the future of MEDICINE.
Jones: It’s abundantly clear that you are on a major mission to transform contemporary medical education. Why do you think this needs to happen now? How are you accomplishing this?
Tykocinski: I see this as one central question. To put it into context, twentieth- century medical education, to this day, is framed by the Flexner Report of 1910. One of the cornerstones of that report was bringing fundamental science into medical education to complement what had, until then, been largely almost purely an art, albeit it was a voodoo art. Bloodletting, for example, a lot of that was done in the art of medicine of those days. It was unsubstantiated. Having brought science into medicine with the Flexner Report benefitted because of its perfect timing. It was fully in sync with the twentieth-century ascendance of science in all areas of human endeavors. Science became king in the twentieth century and here was the Flexner Report saying that medicine, at its heart, was science and that’s what medical education should be about. That revolutionary Flexnerian introduction of science in medical education was in fact so impactful that it almost crowded out any other further change. It’s almost as if the last word had been said. So, for the past century in our med schools, it’s all been about science, with all the rest as maybe just filler. We like to talk a little bit about humanities. We like to talk a little bit about professionalism. We talk about all these other qualities, but they’re just sort of decoration around the edges.
But now it becomes clearer that there’s another revolution that has to happen. I’d frame it as bringing the art back into medicine. Not to displace the science, but to complement it, and I have very specific things in mind when I’m talking about science and art in this context. I can define science as algorithmic thinking––all the stuff that’s right up the computer’s alley, if you will. But I define art, and the art that we need to reintroduce into medicine, as being in more tune with the nonlinear. Three things come to mind for me around that: one is creativity, another is complexity, we’ve talked about both of those, whereas the third is emotivity, the ability to show an emotion and to connect through emotion. These are areas that the human mind still holds the trump card, at least for the foreseeable future. It’s people like Kurzweil at Google, one could call the Googleplectic artificial intelligence assault, all of this will be done by robots. I’m not quite sure it’s going to ever reach that point, but at least for now those are the human domains. And that’s what medical education must key in on . . . the ability, the creativity, the complexity, the emotivity.
As I see it, medical education, in part, will be about cross-cutting all the knowledge domains. There are two things that are going to have to happen. One is the position of the physician of the future who will have to justify themselves by having deeper domain knowledge, probably through some kind of tracking of education, but the other is to have cross-cutting knowledge domain—higher-order thinking modalities, if you will. And in no small part what we’ve been talking about as the nonlinear. I’ve come up with sort of phrase, I don’t know if I’ll stick with it for now, but it’s Medicine Plus. Some examples are very near and dear to your heart, which is medicine plus design, or design thinking through MEDstudio@JEFF. And one of its ramifications is in shaping environments ,cultivating creativity through design.
This interview is continued in “LabStudio” by Sabin and Jones (Routledge 2017)
©2018 Peter Lloyd Jones
DESIGN+ SCIENCE AS PARTNERS
A 1970 exhibit at New York’s Jewish Museum titled “Software” included a box filled with 2,000 cubes......plus gerbils. As fast as the animals disturbed the order of the cubes, a mechanical arm rearranged them, while annexing the creatures. "The work, called “Seek” by Nicholas Negroponte and his Architecture Machine Group at M.I.T. was designed to see if the animals’ reaction to a changing environment can be useful to urban’ planners.” (1) Some 50 years later, far more advanced software and much faster semi-autonomoous machines can design, test and organize super-complex ornamental architectures for slightly larger inhabitants of the Homo sapiens type (2), reminding us all to do a little planning of our own in the face of imminent machine learning and other advanced technologies destined to improve our environment and lives, or so we hope.
In healthcare, advanced tech ranges from assistive robots, organs on chips, CRISPR-based repair of genomes, CAR-T cell therapies, protease inhibitors, cancer vaccines, and what seems like a zillion personal health data apps that promise to keep up alive for longer and for the better (3). On the other side of the tracks, however, more than 225,000 of us will accidentally die while in a medical facility (4). Another 245K deaths will become attributable to low education. 176K will die due to racial segregation, 162K due to low social support, 133K will die due to individual-level poverty, and 119K because of income inequality (5). So Zip code now beats hard genetic code for health prediction in the US. These are problems that design and science are built to solve, yet they rarely communicate with one another, and even medicine is having a difficult time distinguishing between science and tech. Currently, only 1% of physicians have advanced scientific training, and although teaching design is now de rigeur in a number of medical academies, the massive gap between design, science and medicine means that we must pause, talk, collaborate fully, reframe immediately, and learn how to communicate. If not for ourselves, but for future generations. This essay will discuss the anxieties and ways that design, science and medicine must retool and (re)act together for humankind.
2. Carpo M (2017) The Second Digital Turn (MIT Press)
3. Sabin JE + Jones PL (2017) LabStudio: Design Research between Architecture and Biology (Routledge)
4. Makary M + Daniel M (2016). Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the USBMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2139
5. Daniel et al (2018) Addressing Social Determinants to Improve Patient Care and Promote Health Equity: An American College of Physicians Position Paper FR. Published: Ann Intern Med. 2018;168(8):577-578.
Recommended Reading to Debunk Myths..
1. ABOUT SCIENCE https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/01/why-business-leaders-should-think-like-scientists/
2. ABOUT DESIGN https://www.amazon.com/Design-Invention-Desire-Jessica-Helfand/dp/0300205090
3. ABOUT MEDICINE https://danielleofri.com/books/what-patients-say-what-doctors-hear/
©2018 Peter Lloyd Jones
Victoria & Albert Museum, Permanent Collection, London, UK, 2002. Business partner with Genevieve Dion at time of acquisition by the museum
The Gen(H)ome Project, 2006/7 at MAK Center, Schindler House, LA. Essay contributed to catalog, with Helene Furjan. Included in exhibition were artists and architects Greg Lynn/FORM, Karl Chu, Servo, Marcos Novak, ocean D, Weathers-Sean Lally, Phillippe Rahm, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, and Open Source Architecture.
Frozen Architecture Meets Dynamic Architecture, 2007. Klein Gallery, University City Science Museum, Philadelphia, PA, USA
FIBER @F.U.E.L. 2008. “Sabin, Beesley and Jones, featuring work by PennDesign graduate students”, F.U.E.L. Collection, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Siggraph 2008 “Branching Morphogenesis” in collaboration with Jenny Sabin and LabStudio, Siggraph Evolve 2008 Exhibition, “featuring work by Zaha Hadid, Frank Ghery, Morphosis, Erwin Hauer + others”, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Processing Collection. 2009. A curated selection and exhibition of Processing Software featuring Branching Morphogenesis, curated by Casey Reas and Ben Fry,
Fertile Ground, 2009. Featuring 12 local architecture offices and research units including LabStudio. Philadelphia, IceBox Gallery, Philadelphia, PA USA
Siggraph 2009 “Ground Substance” in collaboration with Jenny Sabin and LabStudio. Siggraph 2009 Design and Computation Exhibition: Generative Fabrication “featuring work by Greg Lynn/FORM, Aranda/Lasch, Sabin+Jones LabStudio + others
Ars Electronica 2009. Inaugural exhibition, featuring Branching Morphogenesis by LabStudio, Linz, Austria
DHUB Barcelona 2010 “Working Prototypes” Design, fabricate and test, Nonlinear Systems Biology and Design Cluster, Design Hub Barcelona (DHUB), Barcelona, Spain
Intercurrences, Center for Archietcture and Design, Philadelphia 2016 This exhibition of selected projects from Philadelphia University’s innovative Nexus design features projects from Sabin+Jones LabStudio and Thomas Jefferson University’s MEDstudio@JEFF. Coordinator; Donald Dunham AIA
An Apple A Day Mural 2017/18
PETER LLOYD JONES, PHD