Microscopy expert Bram van den Broek has won the Nikon Small World Competition with
this beautiful picture of a skin cell expressing an excessive
amount of the protein keratin (yellow). The award consist $3000 and
a visit to two Nikon factories and the award ceremony in Tokyo,
Japan on October 10th. The picture is exhibited in
the central hall of the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
While researching the dynamics of the protein keratin in skin
cells called keratinocytes Bram van den Broek stumbled upon this
peculiar cell. With Kees Jalink's research group he studies this
protein because it plays an important role in the movement of cells
and in cancer. "Keratin is widely used as a tumor marker in cancer
diagnostics, since skin tumor cells often have an abnormal amount
and localization of the protein", says Van den Broek. "By studying
the dynamics of keratin within cells we can better understand the
progression of cancer and other diseases."
"The cell in the picture is not a cancer cell", he emphasizes.
"It's just a beautiful, remarkable cell with an excessive amount of
keratin. When you study a lot of cells under a microscope you
sometimes bump into strange cells."
This one cell inspired Van den Broek: he decided to color the -
originally grayscale - microscopic image and send it to Nikon for
the Small World Competition, a leading photography competition for
microscopy images. His image takes first place after competing with
over two thousand beautiful microscopic pictures that were
submitted by microscopy lovers worldwide. "This year's winning
photo is an example of important work being done in the world of
science, and that work can be shared thanks to rapidly advancing
imaging technology," comments a Nikon spokesman.