Animated Science

One of the best aspects of the the science communication-type roles I’ve had can be the variety.

Depending on where you are and how established the team is (the team ‘me’ was the best!); one day writing articles, the next editing photos/doing some graphic design, web editing, interviews, filming prep, answering questions – or something new.

I’ve been lucky to work on some digital animations with a London-based company, Phospho and will share them here – please note that I don’t own them, however (details in the credits).

I worked with Phospho to write scripts, refine storyboards, and voice these videos – with help from other cancer experts. Happy to answer questions below!


Pathology and cancer genomics

These first and most recent videos describe how tumour sample-taking is changing in the NHS now that genomic medicine is becoming more common. That is, if someone has a tumour or rare disease and they join a project to get their full DNA sequence, a sample (biopsy) is needed from which the DNA can be extracted to read its sequence and look at where some of the genetic errors have happened. This can help with diagnosis and treatment.

1: A patient-facing video on tumour sampling and DNA sequencing (the aim of this version is to help healthcare practitioners explain the processes to interested patients):

2: This animation was adapted for pathologists working in hospitals, too. Changes in huge systems like the NHS are hard to achieve, and if we can speak directly to the people working in hospital labs, it can help spread the message quicker (subtitled version here).

Blood cancer research

In the institute where I’d previously completed my PhD, I also worked on animations for some of the research departments there. One is dedicated to blood cancers (leukaemias, lymphomas, myelomas) – these differ from solid tumours because the cancer cells circulate around the body, presenting different treatment challenges compared to solid tumours that are grouped in a solid mass in one place (if they haven’t spread).

Here we also made a more public-facing version, as well as one directed towards other researchers.

3: Understanding blood cancer research

4: Centre for Haemato-Oncology (aimed at researchers) – including a full haematopoietic stem cell differentiation tree!

Tumour Biology

5: Possibly my favourite animation because it’s all about the department where I did my PhD! How/why do tumour cells grow and leave their “home” to spread around the body (metastasise)?

It’s a big question to sum up in a video, but we gave it a shot; maybe a bit rough around the edges as it was our first try. It was fun to consider how best to represent these big concepts visually, with a little commentary to (hopefully) make things clearer.

Doing tailored cuts also proved useful for researchers publishing new work in their niche areas; I was in an integrin-focused group myself. As most people haven’t heard of this, it’s good to see how much extra understanding a short video can provide over text and images alone.

NB/ contains shiny internal body parts, if such things affect you!


Questions come up at all stages, and for anyone interested in how language and visuals can be used to show big ideas about tiny things, animations are always fascinating and fun to work on. Frequently it’s “How much detail is enough but not too much?” “Is this distracting?” “Does this colour work?” “Is this bit accurate?” “Do we need that?” “Can we shorten this?”

Like any arty project, whether it’s writing or painting or anything – often you’ll look at an old project and think of how you’d do it differently a second time. Luckily we had a few projects to get into our ‘groove’ (DNA pun intended) – if animations are in your future, enjoy!

Thank you for watching our videos – I’m available for voiceovers should you require some Southern-English-council estate/London accented spoken words, even though I am currently US-based.



With thanks to Angus for the introduction and support, and to Jeroen for his vision, talent and friendship.


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