ICR Scientific Image Competition
The Art of Science
The annual ICR Scientific Image Competition provides our scientists and students an opportunity to share the importance of their research through the visual means of images gathered during the research process.
Looking at the winning entries in this year's competition, it is hard not to feel that you are viewing artwork.
David Birtill, PhD Student
Joint Department of Physics
This colourful image is a simulation of how a spherical tumour causes stresses in surrounding tissue. Images like this are formed by analysing the reflected pulses from an ultrasound scanner placed on the body, negating the need for ionising radiation such as x-rays.
"We can make fairly representative images of the relative stiffness in tissue, using a technique that does not image stiffness directly," explained David. Although the team’s simulations tend to be much sharper than this, and are more typically in monochrome, David found this image particularly appealing: “It shows artefacts as well as information, but it reminds me of a sunset reflecting off rippling water.”
Amir Faisal, Postdoctoral Training Fellow
CRUK Cancer Therapeutics Unit
When cells replicate, their genetic material is usually perfectly duplicated, and the cell then splits into two identical versions. In this image, a drug developed at the ICR has caused the cell to generate many more copies of its DNA (shown in blue), and to form multiple points of division (shown in red). As a result, the cell is unable to divide successfully into daughter cells, and it dies.
Amir, who is working on ways to use drugs that selectively target the proteins involved in cell division, finds the unique environment of the ICR to be ideal for scientific research. "I have the opportunity to work alongside chemists, clinicians and pharmacologists,” he said, “and to learn about their field as part of my own project.”
Marina Romanchikova, Postdoctoral Training Fellow
Joint Department of Physics
One way of preventing the growth of particularly persistent cancers is to inject a short-range radioactive substance directly into a tumour.
Marina’s image shows a simulation of radiation emitted during such treatment. The black oval is a cross-section through a patient’s skull, and the very bright area in the middle shows the irradiated tumour.
Although the high-power radiation is constrained to the tumour, the radioactive substance also gives rise to weaker, long-range, ‘secondary’ radiation, which can be detected by a scanner. The glow around the patient shows that even small doses of radiation can lead to effects a long way from the tumour, as the secondary radiation interacts with molecules in the air, creating further sources of weak radiation.
Marina works on finding ways to tailor doses of radiation to patients, to protect healthy tissue. As Marina explains, “visualisation can help us to learn and memorise the effects of radiation as effectively as a textbook.”