One Cell At A Time - Maker Jam

From Donor to Data – Maker Jam

9 – 18 June 2021

The body has 37 trillion cells, and The Human Cell Atlas (HCA) scientific research project is looking to create a human ‘Google map’ of every cell type in our body. This will transform our understanding of biology and disease, and could revolutionise future healthcare.

The One Cell At A Time – Maker Jam invites you to explore aspects of HCA science, from Donor to Data. Through the Maker Jam, you can bring your talents and skills to creatively explore the importance of tissue and open access data donation for progressing research and medicine.

What is a Maker Jam?

The One Cell at a Time ‘From Donor To Data’ Maker Jam is a big, exciting online get together for people who are interested in developing a fun creative project, inspired by the Human Cell Atlas science.

From the 9th June to the 18th June you will get the chance to rise to one of four challenges set by our commissioned One Cell at a Time artists (see below), working as part of a team or as an individual. You can participate by joining our brilliant Maker Jam Talks programme or by rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in as a participant – ideally both!

Maker Jammers can interpret the One Cell at a Time artist’s challenges through a range of media from code, technology and maker based experiments responses through to artistic, craft, narrative and multimedia works.

What does it involve?

We will be coordinating everything from team building through to artists feedback and support over the discussion platform called Discord. There will be an introductory session to the platform for those of you who need help. But if you just want to watch, you are very welcome. We will be streaming the talks and presentations via Zoom.

Time Commitment

Think of the Maker Jam as 24 hours of a Hackathon or sprint event, spread out over the course of 8 days. You can choose how much time you want to commit to your project. We anticipate most people will commit approximately an hour or two every day/evening over the course of the week.
The Maker Jam team will be on hand on the discussion platform every day to offer support and encouragement, and answer questions too.


We will be sending out a small Swag Bag of appreciation to all Maker Jammers who sign up by 5 June 2021. Please make sure to include your address when you sign up. We will do our very best to get your Swag Bag to you before the official start date – but please forgive us if it arrives slightly later than we hope!

Maker Jam Talks

There will be a programme of live-streamed talks exploring the work of the Human Cell Atlas community including biologists, clinicians, technologists, physicists, computational scientists, software engineers, and mathematicians as well as internationally renowned artists, makers and thinkers. There will also be talks and support from the commissioned One Cell at a Time artists. Keep checking back as more speakers and talks are confirmed!

Recording: Maker Jam Launch Night


Maker Jam Challenge - Oxford

Call of a Silent Cell by boredomresearch

Our immune systems can misinterpret their world, losing themselves in a bizarre cycle of overreaction known as a cytokine storm. What might this look like? What are the rules that govern the normal behaviour of an immune system and how can they break? 

Boredomresearch challenges Maker Jammers to play, experiment and gamify cellular interactions to speculate on the reactive qualities of a destabilised immune system to create a vision into the stormy world of autoimmune disease.  Boredomresearch will provide resources, software tools and simulation code examples, developed from Conway’s Game of Life, as a starting point for participants to create their own visual expression of a dysfunctional immune system.

Maker Jam Challenge - Newcastle upon Tyne

Donate your Body, Bequeath your Data by Stacey Pitsillides, Holly Standing and Body>Data>Space

Throughout our lives, our bodies hold a hidden landscape of knowledge. In every breath, every heartbeat, we produce a picture that can help scientists uncover the mysteries of humanity. After death our bodies hold a lifetime’s experience that can become a collective gift of information to the next generation.

What we choose to leave behind is a personal decision that links to our beliefs, bodies and what norms govern the social, medical and scientific responses to death and legacy. We invite our makers and jammers to explore how we can map out personal emotional responses to leaving behind our bodies and data post-death using simple tools that allow interaction through space and geography.

Maker Jam Challenge - London

Cellular Selves by Baum and Leahy

Baum & Leahy’s project Cellular Selves aims to nurture a sense of wonder towards the human body, and to make the cutting edge science of Human Cell Atlas research more accessible on an emotional and intellectual level.

As the Human Cell Atlas project reveals vast unknowns of our cellular universe, Baum and Leahy challenge our Maker Jammers to consider how we navigate these inner, responsive landscapes. How can we use our senses as entry points to navigate our cellular bodies? How can we use technology to support encounters with scientific data on an emotional and spiritual level, whilst honoring the donation process that has helped build this new knowledge?

Maker Jam Challenge - Cambridge

A Way of Doing Things by Anna Macdonald

A Way of Doing Things is a dance and moving image project that uses movement to explore the complex relationship between normality, familiarity and trust within the Human Cell Atlas. During the project, people will be asked to re-enact, re-perform, swap and ‘gift’ their way of doing things to other people.

Inspired by the process of matching organs from those donating to those receiving them, Anna challenges Maker Jammers to explore the potential of technologies for matching and different processes of searching (scrolling, tracking, reading, pattern matching) and to explore what might be matched with what. For example, is it possible to locate patterns that match by different senses? Can we match the quality of a hand gesture to a particular species of tree? Or, is there a way of revealing patterns that are not visual such as two people thinking the same thing at the same time?