autoPack Visualization Challenge

Challenge Sponsors: Prize Sponsors:

autoPack Visualization Challenge
15 December 2012 - 18 March 2013

We know about molecules; we know about cells and organelles; but the stuff in between is messy and mysterious… yet that is the level of magnification at which much of the action takes place: the scale of perhaps a few to several hundred nanometres… it is precisely here that our understanding remains the most patchy.
– Philip Ball, from the scientific journal Nature, 2003

Scientific visualization is a multi-billion dollar industry, which aims to investigate and communicate the realms that exist beyond our normal senses. In the molecular world of alien-looking shapes and bizarre physics, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks critical immune system defense cells in human blood, causing the disease AIDS. This pandemic has taken over 33,000,000 lives, with millions more added each year.

Autodesk unites with two leading research institutes to challenge you to explore this mysterious world. They will provide competitors with a cellPack model of HIV in blood serum and a powerful open source app, called autoPACK. It is up to you to convey humanity's complex relationships with this virus, be they emotional, political, or intellectual. We need your help to excite general audiences with visuals that will help us spread interest in the search for a cure.

This is your opportunity to be a pioneer on the frontier of science!

For more information, please visit:

AMD websiteAMD website

The cellPACK HIV model and autoPACK software are provided open-source by Art Olson's Molecular Graphics Lab at The Scripps Research Institute and by Graham Johnson's Mesoscope Lab at the University of California (qb3@UCSF). uPy interfaces for autoPACK by Ludovic Autin.


All judging will be performed internally by the jury. First and foremost, submitted works will be judged on the strength of their emotive and narrative elements, with technical excellence as secondary criteria. Participating artists must demonstrate clarity of thought and emotion in their finished images.

Panel of Judges

  • David S. Goodsell

    David S. Goodsell

    David S. Goodsell is an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at the Scripps Research Institute. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA, where he used x-ray crystallography and computer graphics to study the structure of DNA. He now divides his time between biomolecular research and science education. He is author of the Molecule of the Month, a feature at the RCSB Protein Data Bank that presents the structure and function of a new molecule each month, and several illustrated books on biological molecules and their diverse roles within living cells, and the growing connections between biology and nanotechnology. More information may be found at at:

  • Drew Berry

    Drew Berry

    Drew Berry is a biologist-animator whose scientifically accurate and aesthetically rich visualisations reveal cellular and molecular processes for a wide range of audiences. Trained as a cell biologist and microscopist Drew brings a rigorous scientific approach to each project, immersing himself in relevant research to ensure current data are represented. Drew received B.Sc. (1993) and M.Sc. (1995) degrees from the University of Melbourne. Since 1995, he has been a biomedical animator at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. His animations have exhibited at venues such as the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, the Royal Institute of Great Britain and the University of Geneva. In 2010 he received a MacArthur Fellowship "Genius Award".

  • Gary Lees

    Gary Lees

    Gary Lees, a Certified Medical Illustrator, is Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, and Director of the graduate program in Medical and Biological Illustration at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. A medical illustrator since 1969 and instructor since 1970, in 2003 Gary received the Association of Medical Illustrator’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2010 the Max Brödel Award for Excellence in Education. He served as a member of the panel of experts for the annual Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge cosponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Science Magazine. Currently Gary is an Editor of the Journal of Biocommunication as well as a member of the JBC Management Board.

  • Ian Wilson, D.Phil., D.Sc., FRS, FRSE, Hansen Professor of Structural Biology, Chair of the Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology

    Ian Wilson, D.Phil., D.Sc., FRS, FRSE, Hansen Professor of Structural Biology, Chair of the Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology

    Dr. Wilson has been a Professor at TSRI since 1982. His laboratory has focused extensively on the immune system and particularly on structural studies of viruses, such as influenza and HIV-1, and their recognition and neutralization by the innate and adaptive immune systems. His lab has worked on HIV-1 antibodies since 1989 and has determined many HIV-1 antibody structures, including various broadly neutralizing antibodies; b12, 2G12, 4E10, Z13e1, many V3 loop antibodies, PG16 and several PGT antibodies (PGT 128, 135, 145, 121, 123, 151 and others), and as complexes with their cognate peptide, glycan, gp120, and gp120 outer domain ligands.

  • Cory Sandone

    Cory Sandone

    Cory Sandone is a certified medical illustrator and teaches full time in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She emphasizes clarity, accuracy, and visual storytelling to students in the graduate program in medical and biological illustration.

  • Andrew Ward, Ph.D

    Andrew Ward, Ph.D

    Dr. Ward is an Assistant Professor at TSRI and an expert in structural biology with over ten years of experience in crystallography and electron microscopy (EM) of membrane proteins. He has determined x-ray structures of various detergent-solubilized integral membrane proteins and has also solved both 2D and helical crystals by cryo-EM. The current focus of his lab is using EM to study viral surface and purified HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein in complex with broadly neutralizing antibodies. These studies provide structural data used to identify novel sites of vulnerability, understand the mechanism of antibody mediated neutralization, and inform vaccine design efforts.

  • Christopher Sloan

    Christopher Sloan

    'Christopher Sloan is an award-winning art director and author who specializes in bringing science to life visually for diverse audiences. Mr. Sloan worked with National Geographic Magazine from 1992 to 2010 as Art Director and Senior Editor. During this time he played a key role in many popular cover stories, such as Dawn of Humans, Neanderthals, Evolution of Mammals, Sea Monsters, Rise and Fall of the Maya, Bizarre Dinosaurs, and Secrets of Stonehenge. Mr. Sloan launched Science Visualization, Inc. in 2010 as a way of integrating visual approaches to science in multiple platforms, including film, exhibits, and digital media.

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