Colm Ó Dúshláine writes,
I got a tattoo of a double helix on my arm (see attached) to “mark” the occasion of the submission of my PhD thesis. I felt I should have something that records my passion for genetics in the same way that another one I have, a celtic knot, records my ancestry. Anyway, a year later, my research group starts up a collaboration with James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. I thought it was pretty cool that I had the chance to meet him, so I showed him the tattoo! I was pleasantly surprised (and also felt VERY nerdy) when he at first couldn’t believe it was real!!
MLR writes: “The Tree of Life—carbon, glucose, light, DNA, and the golden rectangle. A tattoo by Kevin Riley. On the chest of a PhD student in molecular biology.”
“I am an immunologist, and a second-generation biologist; my mother was a cell biologist (she passed away from brain cancer, which influenced my choice of career). I find DNA to be elegant; the code is so simple, and yet capable of enormous complexity. So I had my artist make a stylized DNA double-helix for me. The two double-stranded breaks don’t bother me; adaptive immune cells have those as part of normal development. “
Troy writes that he got his tattoo “as a post-doctoral fellow studying protein folding. The tattoo is sort of a telescoping view of the contents in a cell (many contents omitted, obviously). This came about from a very vague idea of something I wanted, and the artist (Chris Adamek, Immortal Ink, Clinton, NJ) really ran with it. He has no scientific training but came up with some really amazing artwork. He was so enthusiastic and wanted to know all about what it all meant and how it works. I enjoyed the experience of sitting with him for three days as much as I enjoy the result. The DNA doesn’t code for anything (at least not intentionally).”
Mike writes, “I know that I’m supposed to provide some sort of explanation, but I feel like everyone can probably tell that this is DNA. Every once in awhile someone will ask what’s on my arm, in which case I respond that it’s a futuristic staircase. Then they stare quizzically and I laugh.”
Therese writes, “I teach molecular and cell biology at a University in Atlanta. Many of my students have commented on the tatoo, I think they think it makes me ‘cool.’ Haha!”
“Hey there Carl,”My tattoo is from an Irving Geis illustration of DNA. I was attracted to his attention to the molecular detail while also drawing in a representational spiral that doesn’t ignore the basic beauty of the double helix.
“This particular sequence (I’ve BLASTED) is too short to be specific to only one gene, but one human gene it’s found it is the 5′ UTR of one of our tight junctions.
“Pat Fish in Santa Barbara, CA did it for me with great skill.”
-Matthew MacDougall, 4th year medical student
“I chose at the time to not go for the 101-straight defined double-helix , as DNA is such a dynamic entity, zipping and unzipping and playing host to some many other molecules and with all it’s binding domains, that I wanted it to be different in different places.” –Steve O’Grady
“In a former life i graduated with bs’s in microbiology and zoology. i worked for a short time as a lab monkey in a plant path lab doing microscopy. someday, if/when i find my brain again, i intend go to gradual school and do something with molecular biology. before i graduated, i committed my love of biology to ink and flesh….it is representative not only of my interest in genetics, but it also contains my and my husband’s initials. (awwwwww)
interestingly enough, just last night i posted on my own blog about the history of my current ink and the prospects for future tats. i haven’t figured out what they will be yet, but there will be at least three more (or one large one). p.s. do you know how hard it is to take a picture of the side of one’s own ankle while holding said appendage off the ground so no one can see my dirty kitchen floor in the background?”
Jay Phelan writes:
“I got it around 1990 when I was in graduate school. As I got deeper into the study of evolution, genetics, and human behavior, I realized that there was a tension between what my genes “wanted” me to do and what I wanted to do–from the fattiness of the foods I ate, to the selfishness/selflessness I showed to others, to issues with managing my money, my risk-taking, and my relationships, and more. It dawned on me that I was fighting a never-ending battle. Anyway, I tried to come up with a design that captured that tension and, once I did, decided to get it tattooed on my back…”