The British Heart Foundation has just revealed the winners of the 2022 Reflections of Research science image competition. Every year, BHF gives photographers and scientists the chance to blur the lines between science and art by producing striking images of cells and cell tissue under a microscope.
Unlike most photography competitions, the Reflections of Research (opens in new tab) competition celebrates photos of things we can’t see with the naked eye; a network of blood vessels or the damage caused to heart tissue cells post-heart attack. Not only do these images offer a deeper insight into how our bodies look at a cellular level, but they’re also part of important research projects on cardiovascular health and diseases.
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At first look, you could be tricked into thinking this year’s overall winner captured a vibrant sea anemone in the depths of the ocean but in fact, Dr. Régis Joulia photographed a small section of the human lung with a rich blood supply. A Flare of Stellar Vessels was crowned both the judge’s winning image and the supporters favorite for its artistic composition and bold colors.
In second place with a three-way tie is a photo that looks like an alien embryo. Taken by Pragati Pandey, a Ph.D. student at Imperial College London, the capture shows a cross-section of a rat’s heart complete with stem cells (colored purple) used to repair the heart muscle. Blood Vessel Volcano which depicts a human blood vessel and Heart Within a Heart which shows damage to the heart after a heart attack were the other two joint second-place winners.
Competition judge and chief executive at the British Heart Foundation Dr. Charmaine Griffith said, “It is amazing to think that each of these beautiful images tells a story of the dedication of our brilliant BHF scientists as they make progress to save and improve lives.
“I love how they all shine a spotlight on the stunning complexity of the cardiovascular system. The research behind these striking images could be what powers the next breakthroughs in tackling heart and circulatory diseases, saving lives in years to come.”
According to research by the BHF, in the UK alone around 7.6 million people are living with cardiovascular disease and on average 460 people die every day from it. While the competition is an opportunity to celebrate scientific images for their artistic flair, it’s important to remember that this research is life-saving work and only with donations can it continue.