The Creation of Adam In Situ


The Creation of Adam In Situ


Semi-finalist in the Graduate Image of Research Contest 2016.
Awarded first place in the Graduate Image of Research Contest 2016.


Michelangelo's 'The Creation of Adam' famously depicts the Genesis creation story - God, grandly buoyed by a host of cherubim, reaching across an empty expanse, is about to impart the spark of life to the listless finger of Adam. Perhaps the most iconic (and brilliant) detail of the work is the hands, capturing the moment immediately before contact - the power of the creator, the fatigue of Adam, and the smallest of gaps between them. As a biologist, my own research attempts to capture critical details of life - from the impact of diet on the physiology of a whole organism, to the effects of individual genes on a few cells in an organ. My dissertation has focused on the function of a single gene, Bco1, and how it impacts
androgen receptor signaling in the prostate. Late one night at the confocal fluorescence microscope, I found this and immediately thought of The Creation of Adam. From the glandular epithelia, fingerlike, extending across the empty expanse, to the smallest of gaps between them, I couldnt help but think that life, depicted grandly on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or nestled in the middle of a mouses prostate, was completely amazing.


Josh Smith




Karen Doty, Comparative Biosciences Histology Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine;
the Core Facilities of the University of Illinois Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology


Copyright 2016 Josh Smith


Division of Nutritional Sciences

Original Format





Josh Smith , “The Creation of Adam In Situ,” Image of Research: Celebrating Student Research at Illinois, accessed October 14, 2019,