Biological Art Bursting with Color

Science imagery is having a heyday. It is no longer just instructional material found in school textbooks, but is showing up in places like airports, art museums, and breweries as artwork. And some of the work of Stowers scientists is among the most stunning bioart on display.

Recently, Trainor Lab Postdoctoral Researcher Shachi Bhatt submitted a scientific image that she had produced in her research of neural, vascular, and craniofacial development to an image competition sponsored by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Her image was one of eleven images and two videos selected from a multitude of entries as winners of the fourth annual BioArt competition.

Bhatt's image, along with other winning images, will be on display throughout the next year at the National Institutes of Health Visitor Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Bhatt's winning image illuminates blood vessels and nerve cells of the trunk region of a developing mouse. Her research focuses on the pathways of these nerves and blood vessels, and how they follow similar routes in early development. The blood vessels are highlighted in gray, the nerve cells in red, and where they appear in yellow is where they overlap one another.

The image was captured on a confocal microscope in the Microscopy Center at the Institute. Bhatt explains that imaging normal neural and vasculature development provides a critical foundation to further understand how these processes may go awry resulting in birth defects and other diseases, and can provide a basis for therapeutic interference.