Design challenge: simplicity

Some months ago I was hired by my undergraduate research advisor to create a figure for a paper she was preparing to submit, and here it is, now that the manuscript has been accepted. As an undergraduate I worked in her lab for over two years, where I fell in love with research and learned everything from how to run a dry reaction to the difference between a sipping tequila and the kind you make margaritas with. She is the reason I went to MIT, and her example greatly influenced my career goals. After everything she's done for me, I told her I couldn't take any money for the project, but she refused to give it to me unless I charged her what I would charge anyone else. Her vision for the figure was to keep it very simple, in a sort of Japanese minimalist style. I actually find this more challenging than the typical style I use. Every mark really counts, as well as the precise placement of every element. It is an important style to master when the main goal is communicating, as it almost always is, and it is something I am continuing to practice. Here, an inhibitor of reverse transcriptase, a target for HIV-1 therapy, has been synthesized as a dimer through a disulfide bridge. The dimerized version acts as an inhibitor of the transmembrane P-glycoprotein, which captures small organic molecules non-specifically and transports them out of the cell, foiling attempts to deliver drugs to cells. While holding up the P-glycoprotein, other dimers get into the cell, where the reducing environment breaks the disulfide bond and intracellular esterases chew off the linker. Monomers of the drug are then free to inhibit the reverse transcriptase. It is an elegant system that deserved an elegant visual representation. I am no Piet Mondrian, but then in art I've always favored abstract expressionism, which is exactly what the minimalist movement rebeled against. So therein lies the challenge. But what's a good career without any challenges?