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King's scientists win two Wellcome Image Awards

Posted on 19/03/2015

Captured by scientists at King’s, images of a brain astrocyte cell and bundles of nerve fibres inside a human brain have been selected as two of the Wellcome Image Awards 2015 winning images. 

This year’s 20 selected images, formally awarded at a ceremony last night, showcase the best in science imaging talent and techniques. They were chosen by a judging panel of nine from a pool of images acquired by the Wellcome Images picture library over the past year. 


The first of the two award-winning images from King’s, produced by Dr Khuloud Al-Jamal, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, alongside Serene Tay and Michael Cicirko, depicts a scanning electron micrograph of an astrocyte cell, with a diameter of approximately 20 micrometres, captured in the process of taking up carbon nanotubes. These carbon nanotubes have recently been explored as drug delivery systems to treat astrocytic tumours, the most common form of brain cancer. 

Dr Al-Jamal, who was also recognised in the 2014 Awards, said: ‘I was thrilled to hear from the Wellcome Trust that another image of ours was selected as a ‘winner’ this year too. The winning image represents our research activities on delivering drugs to the brain so I am happy that we are able to convey the message to the public in an artistic way.’


King’s second winning image was created by Dr Flavio Dell’Acqua from the Department of Neuroimaging at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN). Created in the style of 19th Century drawings by French neurologist Joseph Jules Dejerine, it shows bundles of nerve fibres inside a healthy adult living human brain.

Dr Dell’Acqua is an expert in MR diffusion imaging methods and a member of the NatBrainLab, an interdisciplinary laboratory dedicated to the study of neuroanatomy and tractography techniques. In collaboration with Dr Marco Catani at the IoPPN, he is now using these images for a new atlas of ‘Human Brain Pathways’ that will be released early next year. 

Dr Dell’Acqua said: ‘I’m very happy and honoured to hear that one of the images I submitted for the Wellcome Image Award has been selected as a winner. This picture really shows how intricate and beautiful the organisation of white matter connections is in the human brain. This type of picture has been created to look like the old neuroanatomical drawings of post-mortem brain dissections from the great neuroanatomists of the past. Indeed these pictures are obtained from living subjects today using MR clinical scanners and some of the most advanced neuroimaging techniques that our lab has developed over the years.’

Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images and a member of the judging panel, said: ‘This year’s selection of winning images is not only beautiful; they bring to life an incredible array of innovative imaging techniques, and hint at stories and ideas that go beyond the visual. We are thrilled that they will be displayed in so many venues, and look forward to seeing the range of exhibitions, as diverse as the images themselves.’

For the second time, the winning images from the Wellcome Image Awards 2015 will be displayed at a number of venues across the UK, from the Eden Project in Cornwall to the Satrosphere in Aberdeen. They will also feature in the window display of the Wellcome Trust headquarters in London, and will be made available on the Wellcome Image Awards website.

Wellcome Images is one of the Wellcome Library's major visual collections, made up of a vast catalogue of medical images, manuscripts and illustrations exploring the meaning of medicine, its history and current practice.

For more information on King's College London, visit the 'King's in Brief' page.

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