NHMRC Science to Art Award 2011

Imaging is now a central component for medical research. These images are not only scientifically important, they can also be aesthetically powerful. The NHMRC Science to Art prize recognises outstanding examples of the art that can arise from the research funded by NHMRC.

The Council of NHMRC judged the most outstanding electronic image generated by NHMRC funded research. The following winners were announced at the NHMRC’s 75th Anniversary Scientific Symposium on Tuesday 29 November 2011.

Winner, 2011 NHMRC Science to Art Award


Eric Hanssen, The University of Melbourne
Image source: 3D segmentation model of the stack Maurer’s cleft from Plasmodium falciparum (the main malaria agent).
Description: These structures are responsible for the export of the principal virulence factor of the parasite. This segmentation model was made with IMOD (http://bio3d.colorado.edu/imod/) from an electron tomogram of a whole Plasmodium falciparum parasite. The rendering was done with Blender (www.blender.org).

Highly Commended, 2011 NHMRC Science to Art Award

Cancer cell reaching out

Dr Lilian Soon, The University of Sydney
Image source: Field Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM) of a breast tumour cell invading into collagen matrix. The original grey scale image was digitally processed by Photoshop, highlighting the tumour cell relative to the matrix background.
Description: This image represents breast cancer malignancy, a condition with multiple causes including the acquired ability of tumour cells to invade into surrounding tissue. This research demonstrates how tumour cells form protrusions that reach into the dense fibrous collagen network. The protrusions interact intimately with the collagen fibrils resulting in strong biophysical traction that aids cell invasion into the tissue. Understanding tumour malignancy fundamentally requires the biomolecular characterisation of cell behaviour including invasion. This in turn, will allow future breakthroughs in the discovery of biomarkers and targeted therapies.

Highly Commended, 2011 NHMRC Science to Art Award

The dawn of neurodevelopment - the migratory journey of neural precursors

Dr Michael Lovelace, The University of Sydney
Image source: A Carl Zeiss META LSM 510 confocal was used for imaging (Bosch Institute Advanced Microscopy Facility, University of Sydney).
Description: During the development of the central nervous system, multipotent cells are exposed to a crucial set of environmental cues which determine their commitment to a specific lineage. Disturbances in this process may be a risk factor in disorders such as cerebral palsy. Co-expression of nestin (red), vimentin (orange) and III-tubulin (green) cytoskeletal proteins by the vast majority of cells (yellow) indicates that the majority of the cells are immature and undifferentiated neural precursor cells. The diversity of morphologies of the migrated cells mimics this essential neurodevelopmental process in which cells migrate, terminally differentiate and spatially integrate with surrounding cell types. This image is of cultured neural precursor cells, grown using growth factors to maintain the cells in a largely undifferentiated state, and kept in repetitive long-term passage. Propagated as free-floating neurospheres, they were adhered onto substrate-coated glass and cultured for 6 days before fixation and immunostaining.