“aDNA” (2022) takes the form of a contemporary animal bone which has been carved with textures that explore the processes of bioarchaeology and of infection with bovine tuberculosis, a zoonotic disease that can be transferred to humans from livestock. The carvings are impregnated with a piece of ancient DNA (aDNA), known as an insertion element, which is an indicator for tuberculosis-causing organisms, in this case Mycobacterium bovis (bovine tuberculosis). It was amplified from a sample of human bone from an Iron age burial in the Siberian permafrost. The artist worked hands-on in the lab with bioarchaeologist Professor Mike Taylor to repeat his pioneering experiment where he first found bovine tuberculosis in these ancient remains, the earliest example of the disease’s genetic fingerprint to be found in humans. Bioarchaeology is a painstaking process, as over time DNA degrades so only the tiniest fragments remain.

aDNA (detail)

In collaboration with Professor Mike Taylor. The project was made possible by Anna Dumitriu Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) fellowship at the University of Surrey, hosted by Professor Mark Chambers.

aDNA (detail)
About Anna Dumitriu’s Institute of Advanced Studies Fellowship at the University of Surrey


Entangled Health“, Tuesday 21st June 2022 at the University of Surrey (UK)

Collateral Effects” at the North Wall Oxford (UK) from the 5th – 29th October 2022.

BioArt Knowledge: A Solo Exhibition by Anna Dumitriu at the Yarrow Gallery in Oundle, Near Peterborough, UK, from 9th November – 6th December 2023.

aDNA installation view in Fragile Microbiomes (solo exhibition) at the Thackray Museum of Medicine, Leeds, UK

Fragile Microbiomes (solo exhibition) at the Thackray Museum of Medicine, Leeds, UK, from 10th February to 23rd June 2024.


aDNA was awarded the 3rd place prize in the art gallery of the 34th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, in Barcelona, the annual meeting of ESCMID, the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, April 2024.


aDNA was featured in Pathology Captures the annual image issue of The Pathologist, June 2024 (UK/USA)