Alexis Gambis November 23 2017

The Stem Cell: A New Protagonist Emerges


The dignity of the early embryo has become the central ethical issue in the public debate over the advisability of continuing human embryonic stem cell research in the last years. This orienting question is shared by both proponents and opponents of the research on embryos. From a lyrical animated journey to embryonic music videos to cities in a petri dish, the stem is our leading actor in all the films of today's Labocine Spotlight.

Curated by Alexis Gambis, Executive Director of Imagine Science Films

Amy Karle: Bringing Bones to Life

Amy Karle is an artist who has always been fascinated with mysteries of the body. ( Her most recent work uses the building blocks of life: cells. As an Artist in Residence at Pier 9, Amy collaborated with Autodesk to create “Regenerative Reliquary,” a sculpture consisting of 3D printed scaffolds for cell growth in a bioreactor. The intention is that stem cells seeded onto these scaffolds will grow into bone. She hopes that this project serves as a foundation for further exploration and opens conversations about the awe and mystery of life, transhumanism, synthetic biology, the future of medicine and implants, and things that could be made from the building blocks of life. For those who wish to experiment, Amy has shared her workflow with open source instructions @ (

Amy Karle: Bringing Bones to Life (Amy Karle, 2016)

Dish Life

"It's like having thousands of pets!" Dish Life compares the task of raising stem cells in the lab to the challenge of looking after a gang of unruly kids. In conversation with real-life children, scientists show how tricky it is to work with these ‘super cells’.

Dish Life (Chloë Thomas, 2016)

A dish of beating heart cells differentiated from embryonic stem cells

A dish of beating heart cells differentiated from embryonic stem cells. As long as you give it food (fresh culturing media), it will generate a self-paced contraction in a group.​

A dish of beating heart cells differentiated from embryonic stem cells (Du Cheng, 2016)

Dr. Funque and His Petri Dish

A researcher falls in love with a microscopic girl in his petri dish.

Dr. Funque and His Petri Dish (Alexis Gambis, 2008)

The Stem Cell's Journey

Stem cells have the ability to transform into many different cell types, but Stemmy the stem cell possesses a unique gift: he can transform cells around him into duplicates of himself. He is completely unaware of this gift until a special cell, the "Blue Sage" implants the idea in his mind via a dream. But the Blue Sage vanishes before Stemmy can get the hang of it. After an invasion of "Bad Red Cells", It's up to Stemmy to hone his skills on his own in the field before he can put them to good use. And this is just the beginning of the story...

The Stem Cell's Journey (Jeff Alu​, 2014)