QBI - Event

Lounge Ligands

Lounge Ligands is a new art installation by QBI artist-in-residence John Walter, hosted by Professor Brian Shoichet

Located in Mission Bay, San Francisco, Lounge Ligands is comprised of a bespoke bar, hosted by the artist, serving free gin and tonics, and decorated with a series of new ligand-inspired quilts, videos and a live band. 

Lounge Ligands builds on Walter’s longstanding interest in using hospitality as a device within art, to bring people of different disciplines and sensibilities together to talk openly and exchange ideas.  

This project has been inspired by John’s interactions with members of Shoichet Lab and John Irwin. In this new body of work, he seeks to apply what he has learned about ligand design, docking and receptor interaction to his picture making practice. 

Ligands are chemical messengers that change how organs, cells, and receptors function. The body uses several thousand ligands to transmit fear, flight, fight (adrenaline), to dilate pupils, digest food, open airways (acetylcholine), to learn to like something (dopamine), modulate perception (serotonin), reduce pain (enkephalin), modulate blood pressure (angiotensin), induce sleep (melatonin), and a thousand other behaviors. Meanwhile, there are billions and billions (and billions) of potential ligands, a tiny fraction of which are drugs, but many others that could potentially be drugs. The chemist can control fear, sleep, heart rate, liking, learning, breathing, and the fuzzy doors of perception with the billions of molecules at her disposal. Come be our ligands for a night.  

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