This artwork illustrates how two processes cooperate to create stem cells – represented by the dancer’s choreography on her way to pluripotency.


Stem cells have been crucial for many discoveries in development and disease. Unlike mature cells, these cells are capable of developing into any type of cell or tissue, a state called pluripotency. To facilitate research with stem cells, scientists study how to reprogram mature cells into ‘induced’ stem cells, a process which requires several drastic changes within the cell.


This artwork depicts a new discovery of how two of these crucial changes are tightly linked to each other. These processes are¬†represented by the dancer’s fans – one giving the cell the ability to migrate and proliferate (EMT), and the other changing its energy metabolism (OGS). Both of these changes require an intricate choreography to reach the state of pluripotency, which is illustrated by a traditional Chinese ruyi (meaning “as one wishes”).¬†


These discoveries provide new insight into the biology of pluripotency, regenerative medicine, and the development of cancers, which often show characteristics of stem cells.


Thank you so much EMBO Journal, and congratulations to Dr Zheng Hui’s research group!

EMBOJ Cover - Dancing Towards Pluripotency
This drawing depicts illustrates how two processes cooperate to create stem cells – represented by the dancer’s choreography on her way to pluripotency. EMBO Journal cover, April 2020.