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Imaging microscopic beauty

May 2008
Rebecca C. Jernigan

Beautiful images can be found on any scale, from telescopic photographs of distant stars to microscopic pictures of blood cells. The Wellcome Image awards, known previously as the Biomedical Image awards, is an annual event run by the Wellcome Trust of London. It focuses on the stunning images created by scientists during their research.

A clump of prostate cancer cells was imaged by Annie Cavanagh of the School of Pharmacy, University of London, using scanning electron microscopy. Images courtesy of Wellcome Image.

All the recent images submitted to the trust are judged by a panel that includes both scientists and photographers, and the entries are graded on their scientific content, on the skills necessary to produce the image and on how well they make complex science accessible.

Liquid crystal, as used in displays and sensors, is visualized under polarized light by Karen Neill of the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University in Ohio.

The 22 winning images from the 2008 awards are displayed in the Wellcome Collection atrium. They also will be shown in Tokyo at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan). The exhibit will be part of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the beginnings of diplomatic and commercial relations between Japan and the UK.


This color-enhanced image of blood cells leaking out of a ruptured blood vessel was taken by Anne Weston of Cancer Research UK in London.


A scanning electron micrograph image shows a single breastcancer cell. Taken byAnne Weston.

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