The winning image from this year’s Reflections of Research, an annual competition run by the British Heart Foundation, was taken in the IMS-MRL imaging core on a Perkin Elmer Opera Phenix High Content Screening System (confocal microscope).
‘A Sea of Cells’ is a close-up of smooth muscle cells that surround blood vessels in mice. The cells, which are partly responsible for the control of blood flow by narrowing or widening blood vessels, are marked with differently coloured fluorescent proteins. Tracking the ebb and flow of different proteins in the cells over time can tell scientists about their origins and ability to divide, and help them to understand how the smooth muscle in blood vessels grows.
The colourful entry, submitted by Cambridge University and BHF PhD student Iona Cuthbertson, resembles a van Gough painting. Iona is exploring the ways in which rare types of smooth muscle cells in the walls of arteries rapidly grow after injury and what the rapid growth means in relation to conditions such as atherosclerosis – a condition associated with increased stroke and heart attack risk.
Guest judge and Head of Programming at Science Gallery London, King’s College London, John O’Shea, said:
“The winning image succeeds in portraying a turbulent drama happening at a cellular scale.”