How do we look

Exploring the scientific gaze at the Crick.

The in-person component of this exhibition has now closed

Image of the an exhibit in the how do we look exhibition.


This exhibition allowed visitors to enter the world of biomedical imaging as our scientists moved into their new labs.

The exhibition offered a tantalising glimpse into the kind of research Crick scientists will conduct through a series of striking images.

Viewing the exhibition

  • Important

    How Do We Look closed on 04 February 2017.

Dr Anne Weston

Anne Weston

Dr Anne Weston, a Senior Laboratory Research Scientist from the Crick's Electron Microscopy Science Technology Platform.

This image of a blood clot was captured by an electron microscope. It shows a single white blood cell (coloured light blue) surrounded by red blood cells trapped in a mesh-like structure called fibrin (brown), which helps prevent blood loss by forming clots. 

Blood clot

Blood cells, 2006

Dr Jonathon Hannabuss

Jonathan Hannabuss

Jonathon Hannabuss works in the Synthetic and Systems Biochemistry of the Microtubule Cytoskeleton Laboratory, which is led by Dr Thomas Surrey.

Inside you right now are trillions of tiny machines called molecular motors. They take the chemical energy locked away in food and turn it into mechanical energy  that they then use to pull, push and walk along thin cellular  fibres, or the cytoskeleton, of every cell.  

This image is the end result of an experiment that involved recreating the interaction of  molecular motors with  a specific type of cytoskeleton fibre called microtubules.

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, 2016

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, 2016

Dr Annick Sawala

Annick Sawala

Dr Annick Sawala is a Postdoctoral Training Fellow in the Physiology and Medicine Laboratory run by Dr Alex Gould.

The cells depicted here are from a Drosophila fruit fly larva, which Dr Annick Sawala fasted for 24 hours before studying how it responds to a temporary lack of food. 

In creating this image, Annick was particularly interested in observing the formation of the green blobs, which are small spheres of fat, known as lipid droplets. Their appearance indicates that there has been an important change in fat metabolism.

Fat droplets in liver-like cells of the fruit fly, 2016

Fat droplets in liver-like cells of the fruit fly, 2016

Dr Charlie Swanton

Charlie Swanton

Dr Charlie Swanton is Head of the Translational Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory.  

For Dr Charlie Swanton and his team, diagrams such as the one above form part of a long term investigation into how tumours change genetically over space and time - and what impact this has on patient outcome and response to therapy.   

The 'genetic tree' that can be seen above represents an advanced cancer tumour of the kidney found in a patient.

Graphical cancer genetics

Dr Oliver Schulz

Dr Oliver Schulz

Dr Oliver Schulz, from the Immunobiology Laboratory led by Prof Caetano Reis e Sousa, collaborated with Colin Gray from the Light Microscopy Science Technology Platform to produce a video that features in the exhibition. 

This is a still from Oliver's movie that provides a fascinating insight into the microscopic world of the immune system.  It was made as part of an investigation into how cancer cells are sensed by dendritic cells, the watchmen of the immune system. These cells constantly patrol tissues and monitor their environment for signs of stress, including cell death. Dying cells release signals that alert immune cells such as dendritic cells to the potential threat of infectious organisms or cancer cells. 

the microscopic world of the immune system

Dr Eva Frickel

Dr Eva Frickel

Dr Eva Frickel, head of the Host-Toxoplasma Interaction Laboratory, who collaborated with  Dr Barbara Clough to create the image below. 

The parasite Toxoplasma gondii is everywhere. It can be found in soil, on raw meat and on unwashed food, but its primary host is the cat.     

When an animal or person is infected by the Toxoplasma parasite, it reacts by sending a signal to tell its cells to put their defences up. The signal is carried by a molecule called cytokine gamma interferon.   

In this image, Dr Eva Frickel added the interferon to human cells, before infecting them with different strains and strengths of the Toxoplasma parasite, in order to learn more about how the body defends itself. 

Toxoplasma gondii

Dr Patrick Collins

Dr Patrick Collins

Dr Patrick Collins is an Investigator Scientist in the Structural Biology of Disease Processes Laboratory led by Dr Steve Gamblin.

Scientists at the Crick are researching influenza at a molecular level to help develop new vaccines and flu medicines. 

The image on the right is a still from an animation that shows the interaction between a protein known as haemagglutinin, which helps the influenza virus to recognise and infect human cells, and a human antibody called MEDI8852. Antibodies are made by our immune system to help fight infection.

Animating Influenza

Dr Timothy Mohun

Dr Timothy Mohun

Dr Timothy Mohun is head of the Heart Development Laboratory.

This image is a still from a film showing a journey through the inside of a mouse embryo's heart. It was created by Dr Timothy Mohun, who leads a team of scientists investigating how the heart develops before birth.

A voyage through the developing heart

A voyage through the developing heart


Dr Paola Scaffidi

Dr Paola Scaffidi

Dr Paola Scaffidi is head of the Cancer Epigenetics Laboratory here at the Crick.

This striking image of cancer tissue illustrates the irregularity and diversity of tumours. It was created by Dr Paola Scaffidi, who is studying how the processes that determine how cells use their DNA affects cancer development. 

Cancer cells

Not just a ball of cells

Dr Martin Jones

Dr Martin Jones

Dr Martin Jones, who works in the Electron Microscopy Science Technology Platform led by Dr Lucy Collinson, collaborated with Dr Andreas Schertel (Carl Zeiss AG, Oberkochen).

This image is a still comes from a film created by Martin. It is of a HeLa cell, a type of cancer cell.

The film is a great example of how our equipment can be used to create 3D visualisations of materials at the nano-scale. We are first shown the internal structure of a HeLa cell, imaged slice by slice, before the film moves on to depict the same cell in 3D. As it rotates, we can appreciate its fine structure including the thin filopodia 'hairs', which are used by the cell to sense its surrounding environment.

Big data, little cell

Dr Adam Rabinowitz and Dr Yasutaka Kakui

Dr Adam Rabionwitz
Dr Yasutaka Kakui

Dr Adam Rabinowitz of the Bioinformatics Core and Dr Yasutaka Kakui from our Chromosome Segregation Laboratory worked together on this image.

This image is deceptively simple. It may not immediately look like it, but what you are viewing is the genome of a yeast cell. The genome is only 0.5mm in length and contains all the genetic material needed to build a yeast cell, which is packed inside a nucleus roughly 0.003mm in diameter.

Visualising the 3D structure of DNA within the nucleus

Visualising the 3D structure of DNA within the nucleus, 2015.

Dr John Williamson

John Williamson

Dr John J. Williamson is part of the Theoretical Physics of Biology Laboratory led by Dr Guillaume Salbreux.

John and Professor Peter D. Olmsted of Georgetown University used OVITO software created by Alexander Stukowski to create this image. It illustrates a biological question explored through the eyes of a theoretical physicist, one of a few working alongside the biologists at the Crick.

The role of physicists in biomedical research is a relatively new and increasingly important one. Their interest in understanding the forces, mechanics and structures that govern the physical world means they often bring valuable alternative insights. 

A idealised lattice model of a lipid bilayer membrane created by John Williamson using OVITO.

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