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Winning 'tropical islands' image shows drug delivery in action

An image of a pioneering new drug delivery system captured by King’s scientists has won first place in the ‘innovation’ category of a national science photography competition organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The magnified image, produced by Dr Khuloud Al-Jamal and Izzat Suffian of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, is described as resembling tropical islands seen from space, with the green islands being lung cancer cells, captured in the process of taking up carbon nanotube nanoneedles (coloured gold).  Carbon nanotubes could one day be used to deliver targeted drug therapies exactly where they are needed, minimising harmful side effects to healthy cells and tissue.  

The competition had over 250 entries which were drawn from researchers in receipt of EPSRC funding. The judges were: Martin Keene, Group Picture Editor, Press Association; Dr Richard Johnston, Lecturer, College of Engineering, Swansea University; and Professor David Delpy, EPSRC’s Chief Executive.

Congratulating the winners and entrants, Professor David Delpy, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The quality of the entries made judging extremely hard but very inspiring. The breadth of images and imagination exhibited demonstrate the talent, both scientific and artistic, that resides in our community.’

Dr Al-Jamal said, ‘By capturing the wonder of science through these striking images, we are able to share knowledge of our work with audiences outside of our immediate colleagues in academia. This competition offers a great way to communicate scientific research in an accessible and exciting medium.’

The overall winner of the competition was Toby Harris, a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London, whose image of a joke-telling robot was deemed the most compelling of all the entries. 

Read more about Dr Al-Jamal’s pioneering research in nanomedicine.

Read more about theEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and download the prize winning images from each category of the competition.