Kim Baxter, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Every year, the Wellcome Trust rounds up the best biomedical images of the last twelve months as part of its Image Awards. This year, the pictures are a reminder of just how beautiful biology can be.

There are 20 winning images in the awards this year and we’ve chosen a handful to show you here. Our particular favorite is the image above, which looks like it could be an aerial photo of a city—but is in fact a fluorescein angiography image of the blood vessels in the retina of the human eye.


This next image, which looks like a Gustav Klimt painting, is a microscopic view inside the curling structure of a leaf cluster from a young maize plant.

Fernán Federici, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and University of Cambridge

This thermal imaging shot reveals with stark clarity the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease—a condition which causes less blood to flow in the hands and feet. The disease leads to numbness and pain, tending to occur when sufferers are cold, anxious or stressed.

Matthew Clavey, Thermal Vision Research

Any biomedical photo collections needs something a little grizzly—and this time it’s blisters on the forearm, the result of an allergic reaction to a black henna tattoo. Standard henna is an orange-brown, but extra pigments—in this cased used to provide a darker color—can sometimes give rise to extreme reactions.

Nicola Kelley, Cardiff and Vale University Hospital NHS Trust

This is a lone human stem cell, the image captured using cryogenic scanning electron microscopy. It’s sat in a mixture of chemicals designed to replicate the conditions of the human body.

Sílvia A Ferreira, Cristina Lopo and Eileen Gentleman, King’s College London

A level of Doom? Nope: This is in fact an optical coherence tomography image of inside the back of a human eye. The tunnels are actually blood vessels.

Peter Maloca, University of Basel

Not a heart of stone—but the heart of a cow. This is a preserved specimen, stored in formalin in a Perspex container held at the Anatomy Museum of the Royal Veterinary College in London. The heart is about four times larger than a human heart, measuring about 11 inches top to bottom.

Michael Frank, Royal Veterinary College

This last image looks like it could be a baggage scan of some sausages, but it’s actually two rod-shaped bacteria on a thin sheet of graphene. The image was captured by chance, when non-sterile water was used to wash the surface of the graphene sheet.


You can see the rest of the 20 winning entries on the Wellcome Image Awards web site.

[Wellcome Image Awards]


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