Startling views of science and research at the Wellcome Collection

  • Date created: 24 February 2011

Striking images from laboratories at UCL and Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute (now part of the Francis Crick Institute)  are among the winning entries in this year's Wellcome Image Awards on show at the Wellcome Collection in London.

The microscopic detail of blood clotting on a sticking-plaster, surgeons carrying out keyhole surgery, computer-simulated images of brain cells, a mouse retina, the different nerve cells of a cavefish, and the retina of a zebrafish were picked out by a panel of judges from images acquired by the Wellcome Images picture library over the past 18 months.

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The winning images are on show at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road until 10 July 2011.

The electron microscopist behind the image of the blood on the plaster is Anne Weston from Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute. She uses techniques such as transmission electron microscopy and cryo-electron microscopy.

Anne normally concentrates on imaging various types of cancer cell; but she explains: "We do have work experience pupils come to us on occasion and we look at cells and discuss the work we do. It's always interesting for them to get the chance to view something that is more 'everyday' and therefore something that they can more easily relate to and get an idea of the scale of magnification - hopefully, leaving them with an interest in an area of science that they may not have previously considered."

Hermann Cuntz, a theoretical neuroscientist, has been working in Michael Häusser's group at UCL since 2005. Together they created a computer simulation of brain cells indistinguishable from those found in the real biological brain. Hermann works closely with researchers to better understand the relationship between anatomy, network connectivity and computation in the brain: "I have always been particularly fascinated by the tree-like branching structures of brain cells. In many cases it is possible to interpret the function of entire neural circuits from their beautiful shapes."

Imaging will play an important role at UKCMRI helping scientists to examine and understand the structures that underpin biology. "Extraordinary beauty and startling images are revealed by research everyday," explained John Cooper, Chief Operating Officer at UKCMRI. "The Wellcome Image awards recognise the artistry and creativity involved in advancing our knowledge of the world around us."

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