Albert Einstein College of MedicineThe image—depicting a "tug of war" between a fungal cell and two macrophages (a type of white blood cell) in a mouse—received first prize among 10 images selected in the third annual BioArt competition, created by FASEB to showcase the “beauty and excitement of biological research with the public." Its judges look for captivating high-resolution images that represent “cutting-edge, 21st century biomedical and life science research.”
Ms. Stukes and Ms. Guzik created their winning vibrant green and blue “tug of war” image using a scanning electron microscope. The image will be exhibited at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, along with those of other award winners.
"It's incredibly exciting for our work to be recognized by FASEB and I'm honored that it will be featured in the halls of the NIH," said Ms. Stukes, who works in the laboratory of Dr. Arturo Casadevall.
In a news release announcing the winners, Dr. Joseph R. Haywood, president of FASEB, noted, “Biological scientists create a variety of images and videos as part everyday research activities – from the collection of image-based data to the visualization of results. These spectacular winning entries illustrate only a small segment of the exciting research being conducted throughout the country.”
In the lab, Ms. Stukes grows macrophages on tissue-coated petri dishes and then infects them with spores called Cryptococcus neoformans (a type of yeast that can live in plants or animals). "Its spores can lead to cryptococcosis, a deadly fungal disease for individuals with weakened immune systems," she explained.
At varying time intervals, Ms. Stukes freezes the interactions that occur as a result of her work, and then sends them to Ms. Guzik in Einstein's Analytical Imaging Facility. “That’s where the magic of the images happens," said Ms. Stukes. "Hillary has amazing Photoshop skills, and the results can be a winning image like ours."
She added, "I’ve collected a lot of images while researching these interactions, and this one is definitely my favorite."
Ms. Stukes' research is supported by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Her goal is to improve understanding of how C. neoformans cause disease and affect the immune system.
"Even though taking images of cells using a microscope is basic science at its core, it can still provide us with a wealth of information about what is going on in the world around us," she said.
For more information on the BioArt awards and to see the other winners, visit the FASEB website.