‘Cultured’ neurons win art of science exhibition

Neurodegenerative disorders

By Michael Woodhead

24 Oct 2022

A neuroscientist’s photo of ‘cultured’ neurons has been voted one of Australia’s most stunning scientific images as part the Art of Science exhibition run by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.

The virtual exhibition to showcase the best of biomedical research imagery includes 20 finalists who submitted still and moving images, with winners judged by CEO and founder of Indigenous not-for-profit DeadlyScience, Corey Tutt OAM.

Mr Tutt chose PhD student Melody Leong’s ‘Interweb of the Mind’, which depicts two different types of living nerve cells grown in the laboratory.

The artwork, entitled “What’s that, neuron?” was taken from high-resolution microscope images by Melody Leong, collected with the assistance of Yuqing Yang, which capture various top-down cross-sections throughout a neuron harbouring mutations associated with neurodevelopmental disability.

“ Since methods of studying this phenomenon in living brains are limited, researcher Melody cultures neurons in a dish to investigate how certain genetic mutations affect the way neurons interact, and how disruptions that arise from these mutations contribute to neurodevelopmental diseases,” her submission notes.

Other finalists include ‘Thymic coral reef’ by PhD student Kelin Zhao which received the Moving Image first prize, for its presentation of a three-dimensional ‘map’ of the thymus, and ‘The (not so micro)glia’ by Dr Matthias Mulazzani.

Art of Science is the brainchild of former WEHI director Professor Suzanne Cory, who launched the first competition for WEHI staff and students in 1997.

It has since evolved to become an annual public display of artwork, providing exclusive ‘behind-the-scenes’ insights into the key scientific discoveries being unearthed at WEHI.

The exhibition is displayed online to allow anyone across the nation – and the globe – to be immersed in the art of biomedical research.

“Science is about more than numbers and data – there is an incredible amount of imagination and creativity involved in delivering meaningful outcomes for human health,” said WEHI Director Professor Doug Hilton AO.

“Through the beauty of science, we can inspire the next generation of the brightest scientific minds.

“Just as we’ve all been captivated by the remarkable images of deep space from the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA, these images reveal hidden inner worlds and capture biological insights in spectacular detail that are bound to also leave the public in awe.”

Explore the virtual Art of Science gallery www.wehi.edu.au/artofscience

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