LabCentral Gallery 1832 and Lobby Features Work Focusing on Cellular Structures by Stained Glass Artist and Biologist Joel Kowit, Ph.D.

Recently retired Emmanuel College professor of biology aims for scientific accuracy and chooses biomolecules and protein subjects that are iconic examples of scientific achievement, including those associated with Nobel Prizes in chemistry, medicine, or physiology; Exhibit on display from June 23, 2017 to August 23, 2017; Artist reception & talk August 03, 2017, 5 to 7 pm

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Science-inspired art often relies on new technologies to create images, forms, movements, or even sounds. In an exhibit at LabCentral − Greater Boston’s premier coworking laboratory launchpad for high-potential life-science startups in Kendall, Square, Cambridge − Joel Kowit uses a thousand-year-old technology, stained glass, to unite science and art. Stained glass was used historically in church windows to inspire awe and reverence for biblical characters. Kowit’s work focuses on the cellular, rather than the spiritual universe: biomolecules and cellular structures − the characters of life. The medium of stained glass parallels the microscope, which relies on the transparent surface of the cell to visualize stained internal structures. Changes in light with time, season, and weather bring life to the stained-glass works. Recently retired, Kowit was professor of biology at Emmanuel College, Boston, for 41 years, and his art works aim for scientific accuracy within the context of the art form. 

He focuses on iconic examples of scientific achievement in his choice of particular proteins and structures as subjects. Several are inspired by work associated with Nobel Prizes in chemistry, medicine, or physiology; some are associated with important human diseases. All deal with the fundamental question, “How does life work?” These stained-glass pieces are a testament to science and to scientific research – the long hours, failures, and successes, brilliance and creativity, the joy of understanding, the extraordinary contribution of developing a new therapy.

Kowit says, “Every day, when I gaze at the light coming through one of these stained-glass images, it’s an inspiration to me for the wonder, beauty, and value of science.” Viewers without a science background are invited to move beyond a visual experience of the works, to ask questions, and to be enticed along the path to science.

“It’s always an exciting time here with LabCentral staff and residents eager to see how the next show transforms their space and helps fuel the creative energy that moves science forward,” commented Shazia Mir, curator of Gallery 1832 and events and operations associate at LabCentral. “But the buzz this time was palpable: the installation itself became performance art − given that it happened during our redesign of our lobby space and the fragile nature of the pieces.”

In June, LabCentral announced that it was more than doubling its size and is accepting applications from early-stage companies that are creating some of the most-important breakthroughs in human health. Once completed, the second-floor expansion of its historic Kendall Square facility will add 42,000 square feet of shared lab and office space, eight more private labs suites, and will double the number of resident companies served to as many as 60 at a time.

Exhibit: June 23, 2017 to August 23, 2017; Artist reception and talk August 03, 2017, 5 to 7 pm
The stained-glass exhibit in LabCentral’s lobby is accessible to the public during business hours, and is accompanied by a parallel show in Gallery 1832, where Kowit has installed works showing preliminary drawings, sketches, photo collages of the process of stained glass, and a few of his paintings showing his history as an artist. To learn more about the artists reception on August 3rd, visit the events page on the LabCentral website.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology, Emmanuel College, Boston, Joel Kowit is also founder and director of Immunology Workshops, and for three decades has trained research scientists in immunology at more than 40 pharmaceutical companies. He has also been painting for 20 years and has had solo exhibitions at Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, Massachusetts; Emmanuel College, Gallery 5; The Massachusetts State House; and Lincoln Library, Lincoln, Massachusetts. In 2015, following a dozen years of sporadic glassblowing, Kowit took up stained glass, and has applied his knowledge of science and his experience as an artist to a novel endeavor: Bio-Stained Glass.

Kowit likes to garden and to hike. He was an avid horseman and rode frequently. For 20 years, he spent a week or two each summer as a cowboy, helping friends move cattle on an 80,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. He is married to his graduate-school sweetheart and is father of two adult children.

About Gallery 1832
Housed in a historic building in the heart of the Kendall Square biotech innovation hub, LabCentral boasts a 70-square-foot gallery hall nestled within a labyrinth of whitewashed laboratory space, hosting a carefully curated rotation of local artists every two months. Built in 1832, LabCentral’s unassuming brick building has a long history of science and innovation. For example: the workaday tool, the wrench, was conceived in the facility and patented in 1869; Thomas A. Watson made the first reciprocal call between two distant points from his machine shop here, calling Alexander Graham Bell at his office in Boston; 700 Main Street was also home to the Edwin Land and Polaroid laboratories. While some posit that science and art are polar opposites – the former driven by logic and dominated by technical introverts, the other by emotion and expressive eccentrics − Gallery 1832 challenges these stereotypes, highlighting how artists’ and scientists’ similarities far outweigh their differences. We believe this constantly changing environment and exposure to new perspectives is beneficial to the mind. In this spirit, the gallery space is an important part of keeping life fresh for researchers and entrepreneurs. The goal is to offer provocative and beautiful work to provide residents and visitors new avenues to find inspiration in the space around them and perhaps help them expand out of their comfort zones to find new, creative approaches to problem solving.

About LabCentral (; twitter @labcentral)
A 70,000 square-foot facility in the heart of the Kendall Square, Cambridge, biotech innovation hub, LabCentral is a first-of-its-kind shared laboratory space designed as a launchpad for high-potential life-sciences and biotech startups. It offers fully permitted laboratory and office space for early-stage companies that can serve approximately 300 scientists and entrepreneurs. LabCentral provides first-class facility and administrative support, skilled laboratory personnel, a domain-relevant expert speaker series ‒ as well as the other critical services and support that startups need to begin laboratory operations on day one. A private, nonprofit institution, LabCentral was funded in part by two $5 million capital grants from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, with support from its real-estate partner, MIT. Founding sponsors include Triumvirate Environmental and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Intolerance can destroy the individual just as it can destroy a society. TOLERANCE depicts the structure of a human MHC protein: “major histocompatibility complex” holding a small fragment of another protein (in the groove formed by the two helices). T cells of the immune system recognize if these fragments are from a virus or bacterium and mount an immune response against the infecting microorganism. If the pieces are “self” (as in this fragment of human brain protein) T cells are usually unresponsive, or “tolerant” to self. An inappropriate response (“intolerance” to this self protein) may be associated with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease. The ability of immune cells to distinguish “self” from “non-self” is a property whose basis was described by the “Clonal Selection Theory.” MacFarlane Burnet & Peter Medawar received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1960 for the discovery of “Acquired Immune Tolerance.” PASSAGE the spider climb obstacle for potassium. For a cell to exist, it must have an inside and an outside. The cell membrane is the boundary that separates these two regions, and without which, there is no cell. But the cell membrane must allow passage of substances such as nutrients and minerals. The potassium channel is a cell membrane protein whose selectively filter allows the entry of potassium ions and only potassium. The basis for this selectivity was a mystery, solved by MacKinnon whose work won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Chemistry (along with Agre - for work on the water channel). Curiously, a parallel for the solution is seen in the “spider climb,” an obstacle from the American Ninja Reality TV show, where an athlete must ascend a channel between two parallel walls, pressing their hands and feet against the walls and moving up with small jumps. To learn more, visit

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