The 2014 BioArt Winners

Scroll below for the winners of the 2015 BioArt Contest. For better viewing, click the images below to enlarge them.

Sabriya Stukes and Hillary Guzik

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, NY

Research Focus: Fungal-host interactions

Inhalation of Cryptoccocus neoformans spores from the surrounding environment can lead to cryptococcosis, a deadly fungal disease for individuals with weakened immune systems. Macrophages, a type of immune cell, internalize the fungal cells to contain and control the infection. This scanning electron microscopy image shows mouse macrophages (green) interacting with a fungal cell (blue). By collecting images of these interactions, Stukes and Guzik hope to improve understanding of how C. neoformans causes disease and affects the immune system. This research is supported by the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Paul R. Odgren*

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

Research Focus: Bone development and healing

During normal bone development and fracture healing, cartilage is transformed into bone. Osteoclasts, a specialized type of cell, eat the cartilage, creating a passageway for blood vessels, marrow, and other bone cells. In this image of cartilage (purple and white) from a young mouse femur, osteoclasts (red) surround a blood vessel filled with red blood cells (yellow). In contrast to normal osteoclasts, the cells seen here have only a single nucleus due to the lack of gene involved in osteoclast development. Funding from the NIH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases supports this research program that aims to understand how large, bone resorbing osteoclasts form, and whether preventing them from fusing together is a way to control bone loss in osteoporosis, arthritis, or other conditions.

* The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

Gabriel Luna

University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

Research Focus: Complex image data analysis

This fluorescence microscopy image shows the surface of a mouse retina, the light-detecting part of the eye, labeled with fluorescent probes to denote different cell types. Scientists label cells so that they can observe their relative position and organization within a tissue. This image shows several features of the retina: astrocytes (green), blood vessels (blue), ganglion cell axons (red), and Muller cells (white).

As imaging technology has advanced, so have the challenges of storing, managing, and analyzing the resulting data. The National Science Foundation provides support for this research program that explores statistical uncertainty of analytic and pattern recognition algorithms used to evaluate complex image data.

Amy Robinson1, Alex Norton1Sebastian Seung2, William Silversmith1, Jinseop Kim2, Kisuk Lee1,Aleks Zlasteski1, Matt Green1, Matthew Balkam1, Rachel Prentki1, Marissa Sorek1, Celia David1, Devon Jones1, and Doug Bland1

1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
2Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Research Focus: Mapping neurons in the retina

Through the online game EyeWire, individuals worldwide help researchers map networks of nerve cells known as neurons. Gamers identify connections (called synapses) between neurons, which are then paired with functional data gathered by partner labs, allowing investigators to infer how these cells process information. This image shows a carpet of seven retinal ganglion cells, a type of neuron located in the eye that plays a role in processing and transmitting visual information, as mapped by players. This research project is supported by the NIH Office of the Director.

Robin Yoon1, Darin J. Falk2, and Adrian Gary Todd2

1University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
2Child Health Research Institute, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL

Research Focus: Pompe disease and gene therapy

Pompe disease is a rare, inherited disorder characterized by the deficiency of an enzyme called acid alpha-glucosidase (GAA). One of the primary features of Pompe disease is the progressive break down in communications between nerve and muscle cells. This image is of a leg muscle (tibialis anterior) from an adult mouse model of Pompe disease. The nerve cells (green) and the sites of nerve-muscle cell communication, called neuromuscular junctions (red), are fluorescently labeled to observe the continued deterioration of neuromuscular junctions. The NIH National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases supports this research program, which is advancing the use of gene therapy to improve neural and cardiorespiratory function in patients with Pompe disease.

Adam Summers*

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Research Focus: Biomechanics and biomimetics

This image depicts the complex skeleton of the scalyhead sculpin fish, Artedius harringtoni. The fish skeleton (red) and cartilage (blue) were stained and the remaining tissue made transparent, allowing researchers to closely examine the vertebral column to study the relationship between joint mobility and morphology. This preparation also highlights the interesting pattern of scales that serve as very abbreviated armor. The National Science Foundation provides support for Summers’ research on biomechanics and biomimetics, which uses natural structures and systems to inspire new technologies.

*American Association of Anatomists

Matthew J. Ware* and Biana Godin Vilentchouk*

Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, TX

Research Focus: Cell communication in cancer

This scanning electron microscopy image shows a tunneling nanotube (TNT) between two pancreatic cancer cells. TNTs are thin protrusions of cellular membrane which bridge two neighboring cells and aid in the transfer of molecules and information, including drug resistance. The cells shown in this image are resistant to a common chemotherapeutic drug, gemcitabine. Understanding the formation and role of TNTs in cancer cell communication within the tumor microenvironment will provide insight into the progression of this disease. The NIH National Cancer Institute provides support for this research program.

*Biomedical Engineering Society

Janet Iwasa*

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Research Focus: HIV

This 3D model of an HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) particle shows the membrane (green) surrounding the viral capsid (yellow-orange pinwheels) with the viral RNA genome (blue lines) inside. It was created as part of the "Science of HIV" project, which is funded by NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The goal of the project is to create a scientifically accurate and visually compelling 3D animation of the HIV life cycle, highlighting structural findings. Three-dimensional animation software is used to convert crystallographic and electron microcopy data into illustrations and animations.

* American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 

Peter Barr-Gillespie* and Kateri Spinelli

Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR


strong>Research Focus: The mechanism of mechanotransduction by the inner ear

To hear, sensory hair cells in the inner ear detect sound waves as vibrations and transmit this information to the brain. This scanning electron microscopy image shows the surface of sensory hair cells from a chick. Each hair cell has a tuft or “hair bundle” of thin and long projections, which are known as stereocilia. Vibrations cause the hair bundles to oscillate, activating ion channels and turning sound into a chemical signal. Supporting cells are also apparent in this image; they form a furry outline around the sensory hair cells. Expanding our knowledge of how hair bundles work should lead to better methods for detecting and treating hearing loss and disrupted balance. The research is supported by the NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

* American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Gökhan Tolun1,2, Alexander M. Makhov1,3*, Steven J. Ludtke4, and Jack D. Griffith1*

1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
2National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
3University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA
4Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Research Focus: Viral replication

The protein ICP8 (infected cell protein 8) of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) has a vital role in viral replication, being involved in DNA replication, recombination, and repair. To determine the structure of ICP8 when bound to single stranded DNA, researchers used a method called single particle reconstruction, which uses specialized software to generate a 3D structure from the 2D electron microscopy images. The reconstructed structure of ICP8 (blue) shows that it is comprised of two nine-subunit rings that are stacked on top of each other and illustrates a hypothesized mechanism joining two single DNA strands (red lines) to form a double helix. One of the original electron microcopy images used for single particle reconstruction can be seen in the background. The NIH National Cancer Institute, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provided support for this research.

* American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Trisha Eustaquio and Angel M. Paredes

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), Jefferson, AR

Research Focus: Mitochondria and chemical toxicity

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. This video shows an animation of 3D mitochondria data in a healthy neuron from a rat brain collected using serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM). First, the SBF-SEM scans are displayed, which are then computed to identify the cell surface (green), mitochondria (each shown in a different color), and nucleus (semi-transparent purple). In a healthy cell, the mitochondria are often elongated, reaching out to network with other mitochondria to optimize energy output, as seen in this video. If the cell is damaged, such as by a toxic compound, the mitochondrial network becomes fragmented and swollen, which may lead to abnormal cell death. Thus, SBF-SEM can provide quantitative 3D structural data to help understand chemical toxicity. This research was conducted at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) as a part of the FDA intramural research program and the FDA Commissioner's Fellowship Program.

Clarence Wigfall1*, Tasha Salisbury2, Harvey A. Pollack1, Rex A. Moats1

1Saban Research Institute, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
2University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Research Focus: Lung disease and development

This video takes you on a virtual tour of the mouse lung. It starts at the main-stem bronchus, just below the trachea, and follows a branch of the airway all the way to the alveolus, where gas exchange takes place. The animation was created using micro–computed tomography (microCT) imaging data and is part of the NIH National Heart Lung and Blood Institute LungMap project. The supported researchers study the lung from the most basic biochemical level to its full anatomy and function to better understand childhood lung disease and develop better ways of detecting and treating disease before permanent damage occurs.

* Society for Developmental Biology