grounded conversations around global challenges, in this case epidemic preparedness. AM: Please tell us more about Wellcome and some of its global health initiatives. How does it advance ideas, seize opportunity and drive reform? SC: Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. And we support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations, and spark debate. Our funding helps 14,000 curious people in more than 70 countries to explore ideas in science, population health, medical innovation, the humanities and social sciences and public engagement. We are a well-resourced and relatively independent organization that, we believe, that can make tangible differences. We aim to stimulate research excellence and develop global collaborations to drive change. If we're successful, the research we fund will provide strong evidence for action, which will lead policymakers, businesses and the public to make more informed decisions on things that affect the environment and health. KA: Wellcome is also helping change the way we think about medicine and its place in society and culture. Through our free museum and library (Wellcome Collection), we seek to challenge how we all think and feel about health. We put on exhibitions, curate collections, produce live and digital programming, broadcasts and publications to create opportunities for people to think deeply about the connections between science, medicine, life and art. Projects like Contagious Cities take our excitement around this approach to the culture of medicine to new audiences in parts of the world important to us, but where we are less well known.
We also caught up with the blood artist and activist behind Blood Mirror, Jordan Eagles. In 2014, artist Jordan Eagles enlisted a group of 9 extraordinary gay, polysexual, and/or transgender men, each with a unique life story, to donate their blood to the sculpture Blood Mirror in protest of the FDA’s ban. The blood in this sculpture has been encased in resin and is fully preserved, ensuring that the organic material will not change over time. In 2016, 50 PrEP advocates gathered in protest to donate their blood to Blood Mirror. Each individual donated a tube of blood – 50 tubes equals a full pint, the amount in a standard blood donation — which was collected into the “community pint”. This blood was preserved inside Blood Mirror, which protests FDA’s current 1-year deferral policy to stigmatize gay and bisexual men without accounting for PrEP, condoms, and other safesex practices that can greatly reduce the risk of HIV infection. Viewers can enter Blood Mirror and see themselves reflected through the blood of these 59 preserved donations. A totem of science and equality, Blood Mirror is an archive of the donors’ blood that confronts the 33-year history of the FDA’s ban and current discriminatory policy. AM: What is this art piece called and what is the message behind the work? JORDAN EAGLES: The piece is called Blood Mirror. It is made out of the blood donations of 59 gay, bisexual and transgender men to discuss and peacefully protest the FDA’s discriminatory policy on blood donations for gay and bisexual men. Up until recently (2015), there was a lifetime ban from donating if a man had sex with another man once, he was deferred for life. This was put into effect in 1983 during the AIDS epidemic. In 2015, the FDA changed the policy to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they were celibate for a full year, which is as I see it ridiculous, especially when there are no requirements for any other individuals to be celibate.