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David S. Goodsell

What was the inspiration behind your artwork?

Early in the pandemic, I worked with the RCSB Protein Data Bank to create materials related to coronavirus, that synthesized the state of knowledge. At the time, very little was known about SARS-CoV-2, so this painting depicts SARS. A coloring book version of the painting is also available, at

The painting is based on information taken from these publications:

  • Masters PS (2019) Coronavirus genomic RNA packaging. Virology 537, 198-207. 

  • Surya W, Li Y, Torres J (2018) Structural model of the SARS coronavirus E channel in LMPG micelles. BBA Biomembranes 1860, 1309-1317. 

  • Li F (2016) Structure, function, and evolution of coronavirus spike proteins. Annu. Rev. Virol. 3, 237-261. 

  • Chang CK, Hou MH, Chang CF, Hsiao CD, Huang TH (2014) The SARS coronavirus nucleocapsid protein - forms and functions. Antiviral Res. 103, 39-50. 

  • Neuman BW, Adair BD, Yoshioka C, Quispe JD, Orca G, Kuhn P, Milligan RA, Yeager M, Buchneier MJ (2006) Supramolecular architecture of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus revealed by electron cryomicroscopy. J. Virol. 80, 7918-7928.

What do you see as the similarity between science and art? Why is science-art important in today's society?

I have always felt that art and science are two different but complementary ways of looking at the world. I use art as a window to science. My hope with this painting is that it will help to put a face on virus, to show us that it is something that may be understood and fought.

Get to know the artist!

I'm a Professor of Computational Biology at the Scripps Research Institute, and Research Professor at Rutgers University.

Get in touch!

Learn more about David's work at

Behind the scenes

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