Where science and art collide, the BHF's annual 'Reflections of Research' image competition challenges BHF-funded scientists to showcase their state-of-the-art heart and circulatory disease research through the generation of captivating images. This year, Dr Xin Sun from the Riley Group, part of the new Institute of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine (IDRM), has been shortlisted with 'Texture of a heart'.
In Dr Sun's image, the developing heart of a mouse embryo is captured using an electron microscope on the left-hand side and a laser microscope on the right. In the black and white image on the left, we can see how cells in a developing heart do not form a smooth surface. To capture the image on the right, cells in the heart were stained with two coloured markers, which were revealed under laser light. Cell nuclei can be seen in red while cell boundaries are highlighted in green. These red and green cell boundaries show how some cells huddle together in small structures and form strong connections with their neighbours, while other cells end up alone. As the heart continues to develop these lonely cells will dive into the heart and move towards the inner layers to find stronger connections and help the heart grow.
Dr Xin Sun said: “It’s fantastic to be shortlisted in the BHF’s reflections of research competition and to have our work highlighted like this.
“In our lab we’re investigating how the heart develops during pregnancy to help us understand how we could support it to repair and regenerate in adulthood. Learning more about how cells move in the developing heart will help us to understand how we can re-activate this process to help the heart to heal if it becomes damaged, such as during a heart attack.”
More information about the BHF competition can be found on the 'Reflections of Research' webpage.
This text is adapted from a press release written by the British Heart Foundation.