The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology is at the center of everything we do as life scientists. For those unfamiliar with the concept, this succinct theory first publicly presented by Francis Crick in 1957 describing the flow of information in cells from DNA to RNA to protein. This dogma encompasses the foundation of all Promega products whether it is genomics, protein analysis and expression, cellular analysis, drug discovery or genetic identity. It all starts here.
As we considered our new packaging, we wanted to incorporate a design inspired by the Central Dogma. Our thoughts turned to one of the world’s leading molecular artists, David Goodsell. David is an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and his artistic vision offers a fascinating glimpse into the invisible, intricate world of a cell. David was open to creating original artwork exclusively for Promega, and we are truly honored to have it featured on our new packaging.
The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology illustrated by David Goodsell for Promega.
The following is a conversation with David Goodsell about his design for the Promega packaging.
Could you describe, in your own words, what the artwork is depicting?
my artistic work, I try to simulate what we might see if we could
enlarge a cell about a million times, so that we can see individual
biomolecules, such as proteins and DNA. This illustration shows a
portion of a human cell, with some cytoplasm in orange, and
double-layered nuclear membrane and nuclear pore complex in green, and
the nucleus in blue and magenta. You can spot many familiar molecules,
including ribosomes in orange and DNA wrapped into nucleosomes in blue.
Describe any challenges creating this.
with all of my illustrations of cells, the major challenge is
integrating diverse sources of data. This illustration is based on many
atomic structures from the Protein Data Bank and EMDataBank, electron
micrographs of cellular ultrastructure, and integrative models of the
nuclear pore complex.
What do you like best about the finished piece? Did it turn out as you envisioned? Explain.
my favorite part of the painting is the Promega yellow, known within
the company as “Promega Sol.” Of course, this was one of the main
design parameters of the project, since it needed to fit in with the
whole design theme of the company. When I started working up sketches, I
was a bit skeptical because I didn’t quite know how to integrate it.
But I’m super happy with how it turned out—almost like a sunrise over a
Why did you agree to create this piece for Promega? What was it like working with Promega? (You can be honest 😊)
thought it would be a fun project. Most of my work is for textbooks and
private collectors, and this posed some new challenges for me.
Typically, my illustrations are designed to be like a small window,
showing one portion of the cell. For this project, however, I had to
work with formats that would fit into the layout of many sizes of boxes,
with text. I enjoyed working with the designers at Promega to come up
with a concept that fit these parameters, while still showing my own
How do you feel about your work being featured on product packaging? (Promega has 4000 products. That’s a lot of kit boxes!)
It’s great to know that it’s going to find its way into so many labs!
What projects are you currently working on? Is there a project you would like to work on in the future?
summer, I completed a month-long residency with the Djerassi Resident
Artists Program, where I did a series of paintings exploring the origin
of life. In my lab, we are also busy working on methods to create
quantitative computational models of entire cells, with the goal of
creating scientific tools to explore the mesoscale properties of cells.
What would you ultimately like your artwork to achieve?
have always hoped that my illustrations spark excitement about the
subcellular world, and help us understand the unfamiliar structures and
processes that bring our cells to life.