This embroidery by San Diego artist Patricia Pauchnick is a beautiful example of how medical imagery can be represented in an *unconventional style.

* Winners announced!*

Call for entries: “Art of the Immune System” Competition

The La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) invites student artists grades 9-12 to enter the “Art of the Immune System” Competition. This local competition brings San Diego scientists together with students in San Diego County working in a range of visual media. 

A new way to see science

This competition serves as a way to promote STEM learning and the arts. Students will be paired with leading immune system researchers who will explain their work and answer questions via video call. The students will use what they’ve learned as inspiration for a new work of art.

How the competition works:

San Diego County students may enter independently or visual art teachers can sign up on behalf of a group of students. Entrants must fill out the online SIGN UP FORM

This digital painting by German artist Ann Kiernan represents how the immune system is different between men and women.

Once received, the LJI Department of Communications will match the entrant with an LJI scientist. Students will receive a brief summary of the scientists’ research prior to a scheduled Zoom presentation with the scientist. Students who cannot attend the presentation can receive a link to the recording. 

Following the presentation, students can create a work of art that represents any aspect of the science. We welcome entries using any visual media, including digital art, sculpture and photography. Students may want to depict the immune cells discussed, the effects of a disease or even the scientific team involved in the research.


  • Deadline to enter: May 15, 2021
  • Presentations will be held between June 14-25, 2021
  • Entries due: Aug. 1, 2021


Entries will be judged by a panel of scientists and communications staff at LJI. All finalists will have their work showcased in a virtual gallery hosted by the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

This graphic by San Diego designer Lisa Huppert illustrates the concepts of immunology and scientific communication.

The first, second and third place winners will have their work printed in LJI’s Immune Matters magazine, which reaches more than 8,000 households across the country. 

The first place winner will also receive an iPad and a one-year sponsorship from LJI to join The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, a global non-profit professional organization for all artists who work in the realm of visual science communication.

For questions, please contact Madeline McCurry-Schmidt at madeline [at]