Waddington's Hot Springs
Stem Cell Reports Cover Art
In 2022 Summer, I got contacted by Dr. Takayama from the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA). He said he was one of the two guest editors (the other was Dr.Yamanaka) of the next year’s special issue of Stem Cell Reports to celebrate 10th anniversary of the journal, focusing on the potential of pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-based therapies and their paths toward clinical application. I was asked to make a cover art for this issue and I honorably accepted it.
The paper was published at StemCellReports(2023);18(8):1547-1742.
Waddington's landscape is a metaphorical representation used to describe the process of cell differentiation and development during embryogenesis and how cells transition from undifferentiated states to specific, specialized cell types. The concept is often depicted as a landscape with hills and valleys, where each point on the landscape represents a specific state or developmental fate of a cell. Cells are thought to move through this landscape as they differentiate, following certain paths or trajectories.
My rough image of the famous Waddington’s Landscape.
Waddington's landscape has been a helpful conceptual tool for understanding the complex process of cell differentiation and development. While the concept has evolved and been refined over the years, it remains an influential idea in life science. So I really wanted to put it somewhere in the cover.
Since the paper was going to summarize the ES/iPS cell-based therapies and their path to the clinic, I also wanted to put a human body figure in the cover as an image of “healing”.
Thinking of a mountain or a rock to express the Waddington’s landscape together with a healing human, beautiful images of natural hot springs in Iceland came into my mind.
Two rough sketches of Waddington’s hot springs. We decided to go for the right one.
A finished Cover Art (with official Stem Cell Reports logo.)
The official cover legend says: “Waddington's landscape and patients receiving PSC-based therapies. At the foot of the mountain, there is a patient receiving therapies in a hot spring, utilizing somatic cells that have been differentiated from a PSC located at the mountaintop. These somatic cells differentiated from PSCs hold significant value in the field of transplantation medicine, offering potential treatments for individuals suffering from intractable diseases. Created by Dr. Misaki Ouchida.”
To add somewhat Japanese nuance (because the two guest editors were representatives of stem cell researchers in Japan), I used the same brush created for the RNA 2022 Annual Meeting, depicting the famous Choju-bjinbutu-giga.