By Carl Zimmer | February 16, 2008 11:05 pm

Jessica Pikul writes:

I am a Chemistry PhD student at University of Washington. My research is in bioinorganic chemistry, specifically modeling non-heme iron-sulfur metalloenzymes. I am also a Celiac (autoimmune disorder triggered by ingesting gluten). The tattoo on my leg is one of the segments of the gluten protein that I can not digest. The ball and stick molecule is of a Proline-Serine-Glutamine-Glutamine peptide that I can’t break down which then stimulates T-cells to start the fun chain reaction that ends in my small intestine villi being attacked by antibodies. The background to the molecule is an artsy spacescape. I chose this to speak to the universality of the physical laws that govern the microscopic and macroscopic, an idea that has kept me excited about chemistry and in the lab to this day (and hopefully longer).

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium
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Comments (7)

  1. Noelle

    As a fellow Celiac, that is FANTASTIC!

  2. Mackenzie

    Also, as a Celiac, I think it’s awesome that you found a way to embrace this!

  3. Chris

    Hi Jessica,

    I ama celia medical illustrator–I’m intrigued by your gluten peptide. A fascinating way to confront the challenge!


  4. Sarah S

    gorgeous. smart and beautiful!

  5. SteveM

    Awesome! From another Celiac.

  6. I dunno…gotta say that tattooing your weakness onto your own body just seems to be playing into the hands of any super-villains out there.

  7. Shah

    To Ryan: Is it really a weakness though? Of course in this day and age its quite inconvenient, but at the same time in a way its a good thing because humans were not meant to be eating such processed foods and grains..
    A simpler diet is better..

    To Jessica: stay motivated :)
    Is it possible to have GMO grains that dont contain the protein such as wheat without gliadin?


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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