John Sterling Editor in Chief Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Event Is Major Part of Cancer Research UK’s £100 Million Fund-Raising Campaign

The Francis Crick Institute is a London, U.K.-based multidisciplinary, biomedical discovery institute focused on unravelling the mysteries of life. Its goal is to understand why disease develops and find new ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Institute is a consortium of six of the U.K.'s leading scientific organizations, including the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust, University College London, Imperial College London, and King's College London. When fully up and running early next year, the Francis Crick Institute will employ 1,500, including 1,250 scientists, and have an operating budget of over £100 million a year.

According to Michael Crick, the son of the late co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, the Institute is modeled on the Salk Institute—a U shape with a central open area—to encourage academic and clinical cross fertilization of ideas.

“Our family was extremely honored when the Institute told us they were going to use the Crick name,” says Michael, who adds that Cancer Research UK is conducting a campaign aimed at raising £100 million for the Institute.

A big part of that campaign will be an online live auction from September 30 until October 13, 2015. There will also be a live, invitation-only auction at Christies London on September 30.

A collection of 22 unique sculptures, including one by Kindra Crick, Michael’s daughter, will be open to bidding. Each sculpture measures seven feet tall and is based on the theme of DNA. Some of the other sculptures at auction include those done by Ai Weiwei, Ben Shine, Jane Morgan, Andrew Logan, and Zaha Hadid.

“My sculpture, `What Mad Pursuit,’ explores the creative possibilities achievable through the intermingling of art, science, and imagination in the quest for knowledge,” says Kindra, who holds a degree in molecular biology from Princeton and a Certificate in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.” The piece is inspired by my grandparents’ contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA. My grandfather is best known for his work elucidating the structure of DNA. My grandmother, Odile Crick, was the artist who first drew the iconic image of the double helix molecule.”

Half of Kindra’s double helix sculpture is a chalkboard layered with the patina of science. She christened the chalkboard by writing, erasing, and rubbing in the dust the words from some of her favorite scientists, including the late Oliver Sacks.

“What I left visible for the viewer to discover are handwritten notations from my grandad's letters and his many chalkboards,” she points out.” The complementary helix strand is a flourish of vibrant blue bordered by a golden helix. The abstracted growing forms that spread and mutate up the sculpture can be seen as cellular life or as a metaphor for infectious ideas.”

Also up for auction will be the “Crick Genome Portrait.” This linear map of Francis Crick’s 23 chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA is a single edition artwork (on metal, 23.39” x 33.11”) created and signed by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the CEO of Human Longevity.

“The piece includes a selection of genes, including inherited cancer risk, labelled in each region of the DNA, two world maps displaying Crick’s maternal and paternal lineage, and detailed bands in green, blue and orange illustrating gene density, variants from a reference genome, and rare variant density as compared to the Human Longevity knowledge base,” explains Kindra. “This is a singular tribute to Francis Crick from the scientist who succeeded in mapping entire human genome 47 years later.”

For more information on the live online auction beginning on September 30, or to place a bid, please visit


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