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An eye looking at genetic data

A couple of years ago, during my studies, I assisted with a surgical removal of a benign uterine tumor at a small local hospital. As not much else was happening that day, I decided to follow the tumor out of the operation room all the way down to the pathologist in the basement. After examining the tumor sample, the pathologist opened a couple of doors to the storage rooms. That’s when I found out about the huge archives of tissue material that comprised most of the tiny hospital’s basement. “Oh, but this is not everything”, the pathologist told me, “we keep most of the tissue samples in storage boxes next to the highway”. As the tissue sections were to be stored for 115 years, the archives were bursting at the seams.

Ever since, the vast amount of little human parts scattered across the country has fascinated me. In the years to follow, I would see dusty moving boxes in corridors, high-tech automatically operated storages, and tanks of liquid nitrogen in a hospital’s parking lot. Filled with blood, sperm, tumor samples,... see more