Olympus is honoring the best in life science imaging at this year’s BioScapes competition. The winner is Dr. Jean Livet for his Brainbow technique that was recently featured on these pages.
The “Brainbow” technique, recently developed in Dr. Jeff Lichtman’s laboratory at Harvard, is a method that allows scientists to see more clearly how neurons connect with each other through the complex and intertwined pathways of the nervous system. Each neuron is colored by a distinct combination of red, yellow and cyan fluorescent proteins. Similar to how an RGB television set works, the technique allows the three colors to combine in different cells to produce a wide variety of resulting hues. By using color to trace each neuron’s individual path and connections, scientists hope eventually to build detailed maps that will help them understand how the brain works. Livet’s picture is a montage of images showing large caliber axons of the auditory pathway and their characteristic calyx-like ends.
“This winning image reflects the awesome intricacy and beauty of the natural world and it shows how much science and fine art can echo one another,” said Stephen Tang, PhD, Group Vice President and General Manager, Life Science, for Olympus America. “But the most exciting thing about these images is the vital stories they tell about our quest to cure disease and enhance life. These extraordinary images are visual records of our current understanding of neurological disorders, cancer, plant science, developmental biology and much more.”
Other significant images recognized in this year’s competition include several of the inner ear that help shed light on the process of hearing; numerous striking photos of cells and the brain; vibrant botanical images; rat and hen tongues; and four other Brainbow images captured by Dr. Livet and his Harvard colleague Tamily Weissman.