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Stellar vasculature crowned in National Science Photo Contest

Stellar vasculature crowned in National Science Photo Contest

Today, we announced the winner of our annual Scientific Research Reflections Photo Contest. Blending the wonders of science and art, the competition challenges BHF-funded scientists to showcase their incredible research in cardiovascular health and disease through stunning images.

Judges Award Winner and Favorite Supporter: Glow from the Starships by Dr. Regis Julia, Imperial College London

This year, ‘Flame of the Starships’ took a double-double as it single-handedly stole the hearts of judges and BHF supporters, crowning the judges’ winner and backer’s favourite.

Although we might think this is an image of a distant constellation or a tropical flower, it shows a small area of ​​a human lung and its rich supply of blood vessels in red. Small green dots reveal immune cells called mast cells in the lungs and blue dots are animal cells that are essential cells for blood vessels to maintain their structure.

The body can be in a state of long-term inflammation in people with asthma, COPD, and a condition called pulmonary hypertension, in which there is high blood pressure in the lungs. This chronic inflammation can have harmful effects on the amount of oxygen in the blood.

The winning researcher, Dr. Regis Julia, is a BHF Research Fellow at the BHF Center for Research Excellence, Imperial College London. His research aims to look at how activation of immune cells disrupts the structure of lung blood vessels in these chronic inflammatory conditions.

The trio of runner-up judges

“Regeneration of the Heart” by Pragati Pandey, Imperial College London

heart with a heart patch

The judges’ results resulted in a three-way tie for second place. The insert may look like an alien life form, but in green is a cross-section of a mouse heart with a patch of live heart cells outlined in purple. This stem cell patch acts as an adhesive plaster to repair damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack.

The book “Regeneration of the Heart” by Pragati Pandey, a PhD student at Imperial College London, presents his work which aims to use this repairable patch to replace and repair lost cells after a heart attack and to prevent the development of heart failure.

Vascular volcano by Dr. Rior Alves Lopez, University of Glasgow

Vascular volcano

The next runner-up, the ‘vascular volcano’ came from Dr Rior Alves Lopez, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow. What looks like a view from the top of an active volcano ready to erupt, is actually a human blood vessel in green with blood flowing through its center in red.

Arteries and veins are the body’s highways, and are responsible for transporting blood, oxygen, and nutrients. Dr. Elvis Lopez took this image to look at the structure of the blood vessels of people with or without high blood pressure. He hopes to identify a new protein responsible for high blood pressure to eventually find a new drug target to treat this silent killer.

“A Heart within a Heart” by Kristina Gkantsinkodi and Dr Neil Duffton, Queen Mary University of London

heart within heart

Kristina Gkancinicudi and Dr Neil Dufton at Queen Mary University of London captured the final photo of the judges’ runner-up trio’s work, Heart Within a Heart. While it may look like corals found deep underwater, it shows heart damage in blue after a heart attack.

The death of cardiomyocytes dramatically changed the structure of the heart’s main pumping chamber causing it to deform and transform into a heart shape. Their research focuses on the role blood vessels play in “shaping” our organs and how the cells that line these vessels can lose their identity, leading to heart damage. By understanding this, they hope to ease the debilitating scarring of the heart.

Highlighting complexity and ambiguity

short images

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, CEO and one of the judges said:

“It is amazing to think that each of these beautiful images tells the story of the dedication of the illustrious BHF scientists as they make progress to save and improve lives.

“I love the way they all highlight the incredible complexity of the cardiovascular system. The research behind these amazing images could be the impetus for the next breakthroughs in treating heart and circulatory disease, saving lives in the years to come.”

Simon Hill, President and Chief Trustee of the Royal Photographic Society, was this year’s guest of honor. He said:

“When art and science fuse, the results can be astounding. The shortlisted images in this competition represent some of the most artistic scientific images I have seen that have made it nearly impossible to pick a winner.

But, ‘the glow of the astral ships’ was outstanding. The combination of color and its combined simplicity created an image that was too devoid of scale to be considered a vast expanse of space wider than anything imaginable, or it could be of something so small that we cannot hope to Seeing it without specialized equipment. While her scientific credentials are most valuable, she has an artistic quality that makes her feel right at home on the wall of an art gallery in London or New York. What an amazing picture.”

See all 2022 shortlisted entries


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