This annual competition invites Foundation and MRC-funded researchers, staff, and students to produce a science image with direct relevance to medical research, combined with a festive theme. The competition's judges, who work in science, medical research, communications, and public engagement, were looking for eye-catching, high-quality images, along with a clear explanation for non-scientific audiences.
Three winners were selected, with NDCN's Nick Gatford winning second place for his entry 'O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are your dendrites!'
'This image shows dopaminergic neurons generated from human stem cells,' says Nick Gatford, a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Tofaris lab. 'Dopaminergic neurons are the main cell type that deteriorates in Parkinson's disease. We use these cells to understand neurodegeneration and develop new drugs to slow their degeneration. The findings from such experiments will provide new Parkinson's disease treatments.'
Nick's image was acquired using a super-resolution microscope 'consisting of multiple tiles stitched together, showing a large area of neuronal connections'. Nick adds: 'An intensity-based filter has been applied to highlight neurons in festive colours, electron microscopy structures of a complete proton pump represent decorations, and the star is a single human neuron.'
The first-place image, by Michaela Raab, PhD student at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, University of Edinburgh, will feature on the Medical Research Foundation and MRC's joint Season's Greetings card for 2023. The cards can be ordered online, with a suggested donation to the Foundation.