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March 13, 2014 // By Katie Delach // Comments

New Art Installation Illustrates DNA Repair and Celebrates Hope for Patients and Families Carrying BRCA Mutations

Cancer // Research // Women's Health Share this article

Penn Medicine's Basser Research Center for BRCA Unveils Homologous Hope Sculpture

Homologous hope_art4On Wednesday, the University of Pennsylvania’s Basser Research Center for BRCA  hosted a special event to formally unveil “Homologous Hope,” a new sculpture suspended from the glass atrium in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. The large-scale piece was created especially for the Basser Research Center for BRCA by internationally renowned artist Mara G. Haseltine, and is positioned to greet visitors as they enter.

Created in a ribbon-diagram formation, the sculpture illustrates how a healthy cell repairs DNA that causes breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. It is an accurate depiction of the part of the BRCA2 gene that is responsible for DNA repair. The repair occurs in three stages, as illustrated by a light show within portions of the piece. The sculpture celebrates the hope that the establishment of the Basser Research Center is giving to countless families and their loved ones.

Homologous hope_art2From a distance, it may be difficult to grasp the enormity of Homolgous Hope and the various components involved in its creation, but the full-scale piece took nearly three months to create. Key features of the sculpture include:

  • Nearly 560 pounds of carbon fiber twisted into three separate pieces that together form the 15'x6'x12' piece
  • Roughly 600 programmable LED lights
  • A stainless steel ring weighing nearly 400 pounds from which the sculpture is suspended

Located within Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, the Basser Research Center for BRCAis the first comprehensive BRCA-focused center of its kind. The mission of the Center is to use cutting edge research in basic and clinical sciences to advance the care of individuals living with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

In 2012, University of Pennsylvania alumni Mindy and Jon Gray gave a $25 million gift to establish the Basser Center in honor of Mindy’s sister, Faith Basser, who passed away at the age of 44 of ovarian cancer. Recently, the Grays committed an additional $5 million gift to support BRCA-related pancreatic cancer research and launch an external grants program to help advance BRCA-related research around the globe.

Homologous hope_group
From left: Susan Getz, Stacey Sager, Jon Gray, Mindy Gray, Mara Haseltine, Susan Domchek, MD, Ralph Muller, Chi V. Dang, MD, PhD, Shari Potter, and Len Potter

 

Homologous Hope was installed in the Perelman Center over a period of six weeks, and took four days to be lifted from the ground. This time-lapse video documents the process of hoisting the giant work of art to where it hangs today.

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