Picture this: The 2nd annual JBC Methods Madness tournament

ASBMB Today Staff
By ASBMB Today Staff
April 15, 2021

If you've ever been part of a March Madness office pool, you know the drill. Fill out your brackets to predict which National College Athletic Association basketball teams will prevail, put a dollar in the kitty, and then cringe as your brackets get busted — usually well before the Final Four.

Vic De Luz

This is the Journal of Biological Chemistry version, so instead of teams we bring you competing scientific methods and a chance to sway the outcome with votes (and maybe some trash talk) on Twitter. #TeamMassSpec is the 2021 champion, beating out last year’s winner, #Team Cryo-EM, in a nail-biter, every-vote-counts finish.

OK, not exactly like March Madness — but we do have some pretty adorable team mascots. Thanks to Vic De Luz, the executive assistant in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s publications department, our competing methods have been brought to life.  Vic introduces the mascots below and explains the inspiration for each one.

3D organoids

A nostalgic pair of paper anaglyph glasses highlights this organoid's 3D distinction.


Advanced chromatography

In the same way a prism divides white light into its colorful spectrum of wavelengths, chromatography separates a mixture into its components.

Advanced live-cell imaging

It's tough to encapsulate all the advancements in live-cell imaging in one cartoon, so this cell-fie gets at the broader concept.


Sanger sequencing

I focused on the chain termination step of Sanger sequencing here, in which the target DNA is "clipped" into fragments of various lengths.

Super-resolution imaging

I'm always enchanted by mega–high-resolution photos when I see them online. I wanted to evoke that same sense of massive scale and clarity here, even though spotting a single cell from space might be hyperbolic (for now).


Machine learning

A self-improving algorithm is a pretty abstract concept to draw, but the human mind improves with experience the same way. Therefore, I've plugged a familiar-looking brain into a computer.


Last year's winner, cryogenic electron microscopy, is literally the coolest imaging method, represented by this icy microscope. Stay frosty, #TeamCryo!



Sometimes a name demands a pun. This is one of my favorites — a Western blot.

X-ray crystallography

Possibly the cutest method mascot, this little guy has Rosalind Franklin's iconic "Photo 51" of DNA's double-helix structure as a big round eye.


Mass spectrometry

Some of these came out more sports-mascot–like than others. #TeamMassSpec won this year's championship, making a strong comeback in 2021, just like my mass-building spectrogram here.

Molecular cloning

A lot of widely used methods in BMB seek similar goals — to differentiate this image from PCR's, I leaned on Dolly the sheep, the original cloning mascot.



Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats', aka CRISPR's. claim to fame is its precision, and the arrow and bullseye target communicates that clearly.

Next-gen sequencing

I interpreted "massively parallel sequencing" fairly literally in this one. A more realistic representation would be much taller!



Color can be communicative  —  I used neon yellow and cyan to suggest fluorescent chromophores in this energy transfer fist bump.


The flash of light highlights the neuron in gold and sends little golden signals spreading outward.


Gene synthesis

To emphasize that the genes are created new from scratch, I chose a pair of hands knitting together a strand of DNA.


One of our scientists on staff showed me some composite diagrams of protein structures determined through nuclear magnetic resonance, and I borrowed the look of them for this drawing, spilling right out of a specimen tube.



The downward and outward moving arrows show the exponentially increasing number of the DNA fragments reproduced through polymerase chain reaction over the rapid generations.

ASBMB Today Staff
ASBMB Today Staff

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