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Beauty and Brains: Award-Winning Medical Images

Leaf of Lavender

SEM image of a lavender leaf

(Image credit: ANNIE CAVANAGH AND DAVID MCCARTHY; WELLCOME TRUST)

This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) shows a lavender leaf (Lavandula) imaged at 200 microns. The surface of the leaf is densely covered with fine hair-like outgrowths made from specialised epidermal cells called non-glandular trichomes.

Frog Oocytes

Frog oocytes in blue.

(Image credit: VINCENT PASQUE, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE; WELLCOME TRUST)

This confocal micrograph shows stage V-VI oocytes (800-1000 micron diameter) of an African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), a model organism used in cell and developmental biology research. Each oocyte is surrounded by thousands of follicle cells, shown in the image by staining DNA blue. Blood vessels, which provide oxygen to the oocyte and follicle cells, are shown in red. The ovary of each adult female Xenopus laevis contains up to 20 000 oocytes. Mature oocytes are approximately 1.2 mm in diameter, much larger than the eggs of many other species.

A Cancer Cell Divides

A cancer cell dividing

(Image credit: KUAN-CHUNG SU AND MARK PETRONCZKI, LONDON RESEARCH INSTITUTE, CANCER RESEARCH UK; WELLCOME TRUST)

This composite confocal micrograph uses time-lapse microscopy to show a cancer cell (a HeLa cell derived from the cancer of a woman named Henrietta Lacks) undergoing cell division (mitosis). The DNA is shown in red, and the cell membrane is shown in cyan.

Stunning Seedling

A stained image of seedling tissue.

(Image credit: FERNAN FEDERICI AND JIM HASELOFF; WELLCOME TRUST)

This confocal micrograph shows the tissue structures within the leaf of an Arabidopsis thaliana seedling. The sample was fixed and stained with propidium iodide, which labels DNA, but was imaged four years later. Different oxidation of the staining chemical in different tissues allows researchers to investigate the structures within.

Caffeine Crystal

A caffeine crystal under a microscope.

(Image credit: ANNIE CAVANAGH AND DAVID MCCARTHY; WELLCOME TRUST)

This false-coloured scanning electron micrograph shows caffeine crystals. Caffeine is found occurring naturally in plants, where its bitterness serves as a defense mechanism.

Chicken Embryo

Chicken embryo in fluorescence.

(Image credit: VINCENT PASQUE, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE; WELLCOME TRUST)

This fluorescence micrograph shows the vascular system of a developing chicken embryo (Gallus gallus), two days after fertilization.

Moving Cancer Cells

Cancer cells moving on chemical gradients

(Image credit: SALIL DESAI, SANGEETA BHATIA, MEHMET TONER AND DANIEL IRIMIA, KOCH INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRATIVE CANCER RESEARCH, MIT; WELLCOME TRUST)

Taken in the course of research into how cancer cells move and spread, this Wellcome honoree shows cancer cells traveling through spaces a tenth the width of a human hair.

Moth Fly

A blue image of a moth fly.

(Image credit: KEVIN MACKENZIE, UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN; WELLCOME TRUST)

This false-colored image of a moth fly reveals the insect's fuzzy body and compound eyes.

Diatom Case

A diatom frustrule in a scanning electron micrograph image.

(Image credit: Anne Weston, London Research Institute | Wellcome Trust)

This false-colored scanning electron micrograph shows a diatom frustule. Diatoms are unicellular organisms and a major group of algae. Diatoms are encased within a hard cell wall made from silica. Frustules have a variety of patterns, pores, spines and ridges, which are used to determine genera and species. Diatoms are one of the most common types of phytoplankton, and their communities are often used to measure environmental conditions such as water quality. This diatom is approximately 80 microns in diameter.

Hole in the Heart

surgery to repair a hole in the heart.

(Image credit: Henry De’Ath, Royal London Hospital | Wellcome Trust)

This photograph shows the repair of a traumatic ventricular septal defect (VSD). A VSD is a hole between the right and left ventricles of the heart, and is usually seen as a congenital condition, known as a 'hole in the heart'. This picture was taken in theatre to document the unusual injury and its subsequent repair; the VSD is seen at the bottom of this image, and a bovine patch is being stitched and parachuted into place to seal the defect.

Bacteria Biofilm

a micrograph image of a bacteria biofilm

(Image credit: Fernan Federici, Tim Rudge, PJ Steiner and Jim Haseloff | Wellcome Trust)

This micrograph photo was taken as part of a synthetic biology project and shows Bacillus subtilis, a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in soil. Distinct lineages of bacteria expressing different fluorescent proteins were initially mixed randomly on a petri dish. As the bacteria grow, they organize themselves into reproducible patterns and shapes that can be predicted with mathematical models.