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The Oxford BHF CRE image competition, now in its third year at the annual symposium, attracted some stunning entries from across the labs, capturing many different aspects of cardiovascular research.

This year, the judges awarded their prize to graduate student Judy Sayer, (Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, Riley Group), for her image "The developing cardiac conduction system". 

The developing cardiac conduction system

The winning image shows a heart which was made optically transparent with a tissue clearing methodology to expose its dedicated electrical system. Using a fluorescence laser-scanning confocal microscope, individual frame stacks were then acquired in a tile and stitched together to produce the high-resolution 3D image. Glowing against a dark background, the arteries, atria and cardiac muscles are visible, creating a heart which is both familiar and ethereal.

Symposium attendees also had the chance to vote for their favourite image, and selected "A rush of stem cells to the head" by Victoria Rashbrook (Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, the Sparrow Group).  

Victoria's image shows a mouse embryo stained with fluorescent probes specifically labelling genetic transcripts during early pregnancy. This technique was used to examine patterns of migration and differentiation of migratory stem cells known as neural crest cells (NCCs). In development, NCCs emerge from the neural tube and migrate in different streams to the head, branchial arches, heart and gut.  The image clearly captures an element of Victoria's research on the effect of environmental factors on the development of congenital heart disease in a visually captivating way.

Oxford BHF CRE Image Competition Winners 2023 Image competition audience vote poster

Very well done to Judy and Victoria, and many thanks to all those who submitted entries to this year's competition.  The field was strong, and the people's vote made for a very enjoyable element of the symposium day.  Images will also be used to illustrate the work of the Oxford BHF CRE network over the coming year.