Blood Culture: Reimag(in)ing Life at a Cellular Scale

Katy Connor*, Maria Fannin, Julie Kent, Ash M Toye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reflects on collaboration between an artist, a scientist, and two social scientists involved in research on cultured red blood cells. Cell culture is part of a suite of methods used by bioscientists to study cellular processes outside of the living organism. The production of laboratory-grown blood is at the cutting-edge of cell culture and regenerative medicine, with hopes for significant therapeutic benefit in the future, particularly for patients with rare blood types or with conditions that require frequent blood transfusions. We reflect on our collaboration and on artistic experimentation with spatial dimensions of cells and scaffolds used in red blood cell culture, highlighting our efforts to generate knowledge that cuts across our respective disciplinary locations. We situate our work together in the context of the increasing molecularization of the body in science and medicine, and on the efforts to ‘open up’ scientific practice to multiple publics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-676
Number of pages22
JournalInterdisciplinary Science Reviews
Issue number4
Early online date22 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Bristol Blood and Transplant Research Unit is a joint initiative funded by NIHR. See (Accessed June 26, 2019).

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NHS Blood and Transplant R&D and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) to support the Blood and Transplant Research Unit (NIHR BTRU) in Red Cell Products at the University of Bristol in Partnership with NHSBT, and the University of the West of England (IS-BTU-1214-10032); a BBSRC/EPSRC grant (BB/L01386X/1); a University of Bristol Brigstow Institute Seed Corn Grant; and Public Engagement Funding from the BioDesign Institute, University of Bristol. This manuscript presents independent writing funded in part by the NIHR. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Published by Taylor & Francis on behalf of the Institute.

Structured keywords

  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • blood
  • tissue culture
  • synthetic biology
  • art
  • body
  • scale
  • biotechnology
  • tissue economy


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