The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Science to Art Award recognises outstanding imagery that has arisen from research funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Imaging is now an integral technology in medical research. These images are not only scientifically important, but they can also be aesthetically powerful. The winner is selected by the Council of NHMRC and receives a framed print of their image and acknowledgement of the achievement by NHMRC.

Jump to 2023 entries


2021 – Professor Frederic Hollande

Optically barcoded colorectal cancer cells
Optically Barcoded Colorectal Cancer Cells. Source: Professor Frederic Hollande | The University Of Melbourne
This image depicts a population of metastatic colorectal cancer cells which have been 'optically barcoded' with different fluorescence markers. By tracking the different coloured tumour cells over time, the research team can monitor how individual cells respond to chemotherapy and use this knowledge to study mechanisms of drug resistance in cancer.

2019 – Mr Jianqun Gao

Alternative text below image
Eddy of Neurons – Source: Mr Jianqun Gao | The University of Sydney
Human neurons differentiated from neural stem cells (NSCs) have been used as a novel disease model to study neurodegenerative diseases. This image is showing nuclei (blue) of these NSC-derived neurons, as well as their networks (green and red). It looks like an eddy of neurons attracting us to discover an unknown world. The experiments conducted with these neurons hope to unravel the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease.

2017 – Joshua SS Li

Biological – Source: Joshua SS Li | The University Of Queensland, School of Biomedical Sciences
In the developing brain, neurons find their prospective partners with high precision. How this complex form of biological hardwiring is achieved remains elusive. This image is of the developing visual system of a fruit fly dissected, fixed, immunostained and whole-mounted. Photoreceptor neurons (top) project down towards the lamina neuropil (green) to establish synapses with specific partners. Experiments conducted in this system hope to unravel mechanisms of neurodevelopment.

2015 – Victor Anggono

In Search of Memory – Source: Victor Anggono | Queensland Brain Institute – University of Queensland
Developing nerve cells (neurons) extend their processes, known as axons, and project to one another to establish synaptic connection and form a neural circuit, the activity of which is essential for brain function such as learning and memory.

2013 – Dr Michael Lovelace and colleagues

Neural spiderwebs – unlocking the secrets of laser irradiation for pain therapy – Source: Dr Michael Lovelace and colleagues | The University of Sydney
Laser therapy is currently used to treat chronic pain in patients worldwide. This study aimed to elucidate the cellular mechanisms involved in the response of neurons to laser irradiation. This image depicts a monolayer of cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGs), Schwann and satellite cells, used in modelling the response of neurons to laser irradiation. Dye labeling of the cell membranes allows fine processes extending between DRGs to be visualized, while separately we investigated changes in mitochondrial membrane potential. Collectively, these experiments have allowed us to broaden our understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in pain relief through laser therapy.

2011 – Eric Hanssen

Spooning – Eric Hanssen | The University of Melbourne
These structures are responsible for the export of the principal virulence factor of the parasite. This segmentation model was made with IMOD from an electron tomogram of a whole Plasmodium falciparum parasite. The rendering was done with Blender.

2023 entries

Entries for the 2023 award have now opened. For queries about this award, contact

How to enter

Digital images can be submitted via the nomination form. Link provided in the following:

Images are to be a minimum resolution of 400 dpi and submitted in high quality format.

Conditions of entry

  • Images must be generated from research funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (an NHMRC grant reference number is to accompany each submission).
  • Entry is limited to one image per NHMRC funded grant.
  • Digitally enhanced or altered images are eligible but must be accompanied by an explanation of any alterations.

Certifying images

On entry, the submitter will be asked to certify that:

  • They own the image and, satisfying all copyright requirements, they grant NHMRC an enduring, non-exclusive licence to use the image without charge.

Our commitment to you

NHMRC will commit that the submitter's moral rights will be observed and NHMRC will publicly acknowledge ownership of the image if it is used in any publications.

Submissions close

Nominations close at 4PM AEDST on Friday 28 October 2022.


The 2022 awardee is expected to be announced at the NHMRC Biennial Awards Dinner on 23 March 2023. The awardee (or their nominated representative if a group or organisation) will be invited to attend the Awards Dinner.