An Oxford University scientist has been announced as the judges’ runner-up in the British Heart Foundation (BHF) national ‘Reflections of Research’ image competition.
The initiative was created to showcase ground-breaking BHF funded research projects into heart and circulatory diseases. Entrants were tasked with producing an image that visually captures the aim of their research.
'Flower from the heart' was created by Dr Nicoletta Surdo, a Postdoctoral research scientist, in a BHF Funded position, at Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.
Dr Surdo, and her team are studying heart failure, where the heart is unable to pump hard enough to deliver enough blood around the body and for which there is currently no cure.
Her image shows the muscle fibres that form the walls of the chambers of a mouse heart. Titin (in green), acts as a molecular spring, whilst Beta-actinin (in red) helps to enable the heart muscle to contract helping the heart to beat.
When I took this picture I was inspired by the natural beauty of the simple building blocks in our heart.
Dr Nicoletta Surdo, a Postdoctoral research scientist at Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.
A second image, created by Dr Surdo, was also shortlisted in the competition. 'Butterfly in a cell' represents mitochondria, small structures floating free throughout the cell, that create the energy that allows the heart to keep pumping.
The drugs that are used to treat heart failure have varying long-term effects, and some can only be given to people with acute conditions, as long-term use can increase the risk of death. The reasons for exactly what leads to these different positive and negative effects are not well understood. But, by understanding more about the molecules involved in heart failure, Dr Surdo and her the team hope to be able to develop new drugs to treat the condition.
Of receiving the honour, Dr Surdo, said: ‘I greatly appreciate that both my images were accepted for this national competition. If it were Olympia, I would have now won the silver medal - which is still shining! Flower from the heart was also the runner-up in the DPAG's 2017 image competition and it got a lot of attention at the Science and Art Exhibition in Oxford this year.
'I think it would be a nice logo for a BHF fundraising campaign, maybe for "Mother’s Day" or "Valentine’s Day". When I took this picture I was inspired by the natural beauty of the simple building blocks in our heart. I would like to thank all members of Zaccolo's group for the support.’
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the BHF, said: ‘Each of these stunning images tells a story about the BHF’s world-leading research in the fight against heart and circulatory diseases.
‘Science relies increasingly on ever more sophisticated imaging techniques to help us to see the cellular and molecular processes that conspire to create disease. So whilst this competition is all about the picture, it’s the story behind each one that will save and transform lives.’