Liquid Biopsy

Liquid Biopsy is an abstract painting that mirrors the scientific research for brain biopsies by Dr. Nancy Ann Bush, Neuro-Oncologist director at UCSF.
Liquid Biopsy Painting by Kimba
Kimba Livesay, Liquid Biopsy, Acrylic on Canvas 30x30, 2022. In Private Collection.

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Liquid Biopsy Close Up


The Unfolding

I love how the creative project, Liquid Biopsy unfolded. I’m constantly asking myself what places, things, people and ideas look like.  And not just the physical appearance but also how it feels and vibrates. I hear images and smell color and so to create I just tune in and let the art unfold on the canvas.

What Would That Look Like?

I know a lot of people who think very differently from me and I love that! I’m always curious about what people are creating and so I ask them. That’s how the painting Liquid Biopsy came into being.  I met Dr. Nancy Ann Bush at UCSF a little over three years ago. She is incredibly kind and knowledgeable, and I feel blessed that she is my neuro-oncologist and friend.

When I asked about her research, she told me about several projects but the one that lodged in my mind was her work on a liquid biopsy for brain and spinal tumors. I remember asking myself, what would that look like in color? Then I asked her to tell me more about her project.

Project of Hope

Creative artist and researchers have something in common, they are keen observers. Yes, the observations are different, but the skill set is still there. So, what did Dr. Bush observe? A phenomenon known as temozolomide-induced hypermutation. People with low grade glioma tumors that were treated with temozolomide chemotherapy had a chance of developing higher-grade aggressive tumors associated with a worse prognosis.   

The only way to know if a person has this hypermutation is a tumor biopsy. That’s what led Dr. Bush to develop a biopsy that uses blood and cerebral spinal fluid. The development of this liquid biopsy will allow doctors to treat brain and spinal tumors earlier and more effectively. That’s what hope looks like.

Creative Choas

I kept thinking about the value and benefit of a liquid brain biopsy and what that would look like. Then one afternoon during my coffee break, the image came to me! It was colorful and fluid like a liquid biopsy. The problem was I had no idea how to create the image on canvas. For three weeks I created nothing but colorful smelly messes. I was ready to forget the creative project and move on to something else. I prepped one more 30×30 canvas and settled into my creative flow. In three days, I had created my visual interpretation of a liquid biopsy. Out of the chaos something beautiful emerged. It always does. And I believe that to be true with Dr. Bush’s project too.

The Colors

The top of the painting is red and presents the idea of a blood collection. I used a technique that allowed me to concave the paint so it looked like red blood cells. The red flows into white, the color of platelets and spinal fluid. Yellow represents plasma after it’s taken a spin in the centrifuge, flowing onto the slide.

The bottom part of the painting represents the microscope slide. Pink represents the slide stain so that different cells can be seen. The middle of the slide offers the best microscopic view and so if you look in the middle of the painting you can see the leukocytes, white blood cells and erythrocytes, red blood cells.

And finally, I added lots of blue because it symbolizes the energy of wisdom. I’ve learned that to solve complex problems knowledge and wisdom must be applied in equal measure.

All Together

The next time I meet with Dr. Bush, I told her about the painting and how it came to be. Her face lit up as she told me she wanted the painting. Of course she did. The frequency of the painting reflected her desire to make the world a better place for those with brain and spinal tumors. And I’m delighted that my painting of a liquid biopsy resides with the scientific liquid biopsy project. I think we need more of that. Don’t you?

Nancy Ann and Kimba with Liquid Biopsy
Nancy Ann and Kimba



Liquid Biopsy Photo 1
Kimba Livesay, Liquid Biopsy, Photo 1, 2022


Liquid Biopsy Photo 2
Kimba Livesay, Liquid Biopsy, Photo 2, 2022

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