You can always rest assured that the Nikon’s annual Small World microscopy photo competition will have some absolutely breathtaking images, and the most recent winner’s gallery continues that tradition. This year, two researchers from St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital have won the 2012 competition with their image of the blood-brain barrier of a zebrafish embryo . See all the winning images here...
“We used fluorescent proteins to look at the brain endothelial cells and watched the blood-brain barrier develop in real-time,” said Peters in a press release. “We took a three-dimensional snapshot under a confocal microscope and then stacked the images and compressed them into one, pseudo-coloring them in rainbow to illustrate depth.”
In a paper recently published by Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Taylor details the advantages that the zebrafish has as a model for studying drug transportation across the blood-brain barrier (1). “A better understanding of the highly complex blood-brain barrier is important for a number of reasons,” said Taylor. “New models of the blood-brain barrier, such as the transgenic zebrafish shown in our image, may lead to new treatments for these diseases.”
In second place, Walter Piorkowski from South Beloit, IL, was recognized for his microscopy image of live newborn lynx spiderlings. And, in third place, Dylan Burnette from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MA, was recognized for his structured illumination microscopy image of human bone cancer.
Although the subject matter is unrestricted, many of the winning submissions come from biomedical research laboratories at institutes around the world. In addition, the entries feature a variety of light microscopy methods including fluorescence, confocal, and polarized light techniques.
Over the next year, the top 20 winners of this year’s competition will be exhibited at museums and science centers through the U.S. and Canada, as well as being featured on the the covers of scientific and industrial journals.
Each year since 1975, the contest has judged the microscopy photographs based on their originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and visual impact.
1. Umans, R. A., and M. R. Taylor. 2012. Zebrafish as a model to study drug transporters at the Blood-Brain barrier. Clin Pharmacol Ther 92(5):567-570.