Treating Depression with Escitalopram

Knowledge Gap: How does escitalopram interact with the serotonin transporter protein (SERT) to treat depression? 
Design Solution: Compare the interaction between serotonin, the serotonin transporter protein, the primary and allosteric binding sites, and the serotonin receptor, during a depressive state and a treated state. 
Print (editorial, magazine)
Project Details: This two-page magazine spread was produced for a Molecular Visualization course in the Biomedical Communications program.     
Prof. Derek Ng 
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
UCSF Chimera 
Date Completed 
July 2018 
General public


Initial research was conducted to understand how serotonin aids in transferring signals between neurons, how depression affects this signal transfer, and why escitalopram is a successful Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drug. 


Initial Sketches 


Many rough sketches were drawn to find the simplest, yet most accurate way of visually communicating the action that takes place at the synapse level, and where escitalopram binds within the serotonin transporter protein. 

Composition and Layout

Once the general layout was completed, 3D models of the molecular structures were created. The final step was to experiment with colour to enhance the communication goals of the illustration. A cool blue and warm pink were used to represent the depressive and treated states respectively, and a desaturated yellow was used to represent the serotonin transporter protein. The text of main graphical elements were enhanced with colour to facilitate the visual associations. 

Frequent communication and meetings with the client was essential to ensure the illustration was at the appropriate quality and required standards. The work process was frequently shown to the client whose feedback was incorporated at each stage. 


Problem Solving

The biggest challenge was layout; there was simply a lot of complicated information to communicate. To solve this issue, text was strategically placed close to corresponding images, and an infographic was used to reduce text and easily compare the differences in the depressive and treated states. 


Design Process

Sketch 1.jpeg
Sketch 2.jpeg
Escitalopram (both) - V01.png
S-citalopram - V01.png
Final back-V01.jpg
Final back-V02.jpg