Luna’s Groceries

2010 Red Arrow Trail, Madison WI 53711

The Big Data/Precision Medicine mural explores the cutting-edge approach and study for disease treatment and prevention known as Precision Medicine.

Ever wonder why a medicine does not work the same for you? Or why you may experience illness or disease differently than others? Precision Medicine takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for people – recognizing we are not a one size fits all. Good medicine may be different for us based on our ancestry, our genetics, the place we live, and how we live. Precision Medicine aims to research new approaches for medical care based on differences that influence our unique health profiles as individuals and community.

As Precision Medicine explores many variables that encompass several areas of science: genetics, environment, lifestyle, and more, the field of Big Data becomes crucial for processing diverse information and identifying the patterns, trends and associations of those large data sets. By using Big Data tools for large and diverse information researchers gather, the data can then be analyzed computationally to discover insights for customizing medical treatments and preventions.

Within the mural, you will notice everything on the left side can be measured at the molecular level. Images on the right represent what can be influenced by the environment that leads to precision medicine, which can also be measured and utilized for precision medicine if these environmental variables play a role in affecting health – such as stress, microbial exposure, diet, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Diving into the molecular level of health

Ribonucleic Acid, RNA is the precursor of proteins​, which does all the work in the cell. Measuring RNA gives us ​a sense of when the genes are turned on and off in a cell. It is one of the most prevalent measures of variation to tailor medical intervention​ because when there is disease, often it is accompanied by a change in the amount of specific RNAs produced (more or less).  Certain changes can help alert doctors to problems/diseases.  In some cases, the over or underproduction of specific RNAs can be targeted and treated.

Metabolites are small molecules that perform many functions including generating building blocks for biosynthetic molecules and cofactors for enzymes. Many metabolites are directly made from food that is consumed.​  They can be made by proteins in our bodies or by certain microbes like bacteria.  Metabolites can affect immune and brain cells among others, causing inflammation or healing, or change in mood respectively.  Precision medicine studies usually involve studying samples from two different groups, such as control and disease, and taking measurements of some or all of the following: DNA, RNA, metabolites, and epigenetics from each person and finding patterns from these data that allows us to discriminate between the control and disease groups.


The microbiome, is the genetic material of all the microbes living on and inside the human body and can play a role in health, disease prevention and treatment. This makes the microbiome an important area of research within precision medicine. The human body is home to an estimated 10,000 species of microorganisms consisting of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. Our relationship to the microbiome universe living within us is often mutually beneficial: for example, maintaining intestinal health, regulating metabolism and protecting against infection. Recent microbiome research have linked the microbiome to several disease developments and can influence the safety, tolerability and success of certain treatments. By collecting information on the microbiome and its relationships to disease, we can discover new treatment options that are inclusive of our uniqueness.
… Did you know there are differences depending on where the microbiome is within the body? And there are millions of unique genes associated with the microbiomes of the human body. That is a lot of data to collect! Those large scale and complex datasets utilize Big Data as a means to discover relevant connections and findings within Precision Medicine research. To learn more about the varied and expansive human microbiome, check out the NPR video, The Invisible Universe of the Human Microbiome, below.
Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA, is a molecule composed of two polynucleotide chains that form a double helix; it carries genetics instructions for the development, function, growth and reproduction of the human body. Advancements within precision medicine require analysis of the human genome. Did you notice the dots within our DNA helix? The dots represent a chemical modification on the DNA that can control whether a gene is on or off. So two people with identical DNA for a gene may still not generate the same level of RNA/protein for that gene because the modification functions as an “off” switch. The sum of all the chemical modifications on DNA or the proteins that the DNA is wrapped around, called histones, contribute to the epigenome. Epigenome refers to information that is inherited but not encoded in the genome itself. Because the epigenome influences genes switching on and off, it is also measured to inform precision medicine interventions.
Celebrating our diversity, it matters
The central faces within our mural represent several aspects behind the creation of the mural, and the science behind the mural. Firstly, this mural was led by all women. Audifax, our artist, wanted to recognize the female leadership that made this mural possible, which spans science, art and business. We wanted the mural to celebrate the diversity of our community, and reflect the strong women of color within Madison.
This bring us to the science behind the mural and how diversity matters, and is critical to the strength and equity of future health care treatments. We represent three women, to highlight that Precision Medicine requires many people of diverse backgrounds to contribute to research.  The two women on the side symbolize the group of people whose contributions to Precision Medicine research contribute to central woman’s strong health and empowered medical care.
With just one person’s data or one homogeneous group’s data, scientists cannot discover findings that are representative of all our community. Precision medicine is not looking at the average. And we are not just our genomes, we are a mix of our genes and environment together. This is why it becomes vital to include the diversity of people and places that make up our global community. Through this research, we will be able to better serve public health, and support advanced systems for medical treatments and preventions that are tailored to our needs.
However, it takes trust between community and researchers in order for communities to engage in medical research. Historically, people of color have not been a part of medical research aimed at promoting and protecting the quality of our lives. Lack of diversity within medical research has contributed to a lack of data, knowledge, services and tailored medical therapies for our diverse communities. Measuring molecular features, like the ones represented within the mural, in diverse populations is extremely important for interpretation of variation. For example, if only a single gender or ethnicity is measured to set a baseline, then another gender or ethnicity that may naturally have a higher level of a particular feature may be misdiagnosed as diseased, causing unnecessary intervention.
By expanding studies to include diverse populations, we are moving towards medical empowerment and more treatments that are built based on our diversity.
Exploring how our environment shapes our health

Lastly, the trees represents the world we live in, whether it be cities filled with pavement or rural villages filled with trees. Surrounding the DNA helix, at the center of our mural we have four words: Precision Medicine, Big Data, Choices and Environment.

The first two are the namesake of our mural and highlight the two areas or research represented within our mural.

The second two are symbolized by the natural landscape. It awakens an awareness of the environment we live in, and the choices we make that lead to our lifestyle, and these two factors impact our health. Although our genes do play a factor in our health, there is so much we can do to improve our own health, and help to mitigate certain health risks.


Meet the Artist:

With a focus on murals, street art and canvas paintings, I challenge myself with my art and share this passion by working with teens and adults, to bring strength and inner peace through a combination of creativity and community connection. Regardless of race, gender or background, I hope to push people beyond what they’ve been told they’re capable of and understand happiness is achievable by listening to and being real with yourself, and most importantly, taking positive action.Through my art I not only bring to life messages from deep within my soul, but also hope to inspire others to follow what is truly within theirs, fearlessly.

Meet the Scientists:

Rupa Sridharan
Assistant Professor, Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology
Rupa is interested in how cell identity is established during development and disrupted in disease and aging. All of us start as a single cell and develop into an organism made of cells with specialized function. Her lab measures big data in the form of levels of genes ( transcriptome), and levels of proteins that control them ( epigenome) to determine how cell identity is maintained. She is interested in the ethical and practical considerations of big data informing precision medicine. She thinks that a mural is the perfect way to engage the public in the discussion of the societal impact of big data.

Irene Ong
Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Biostatistics and Medical Informatics; Director of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center’s Cancer Informatics Shared Resource

Irene’s research interests lies in data mining, artificial intelligence, machine learning, probabilistic methods, dynamical models, inductive logic programming, and statistical relational learning with applications to biological and medical data. She is particularly interested in the integration and analysis of clinical, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, immunome, metagenomics, metabolomics, and other molecular data especially as it pertains to precision medicine.





Mural production timeline complete: Mural painting occurred: Saturday, October 25th, 2019 – November 2nd 2019. To view photo documentation on the mural’s creation process, check out our Instagram account.