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Image of the Week

Image of the Week, Neuroscience

Image of the Week: One of 2013′s “coolest” microscopic images

Image of the Week: One of 2013's "coolest" microscopic images

Salehi image

Recently, Olympus announced the winners of its BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition. A photo by Ahmad Salehi, MD, PhD, an associate professor in Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences received honorable mention in this competition; it was also selected by Gizmodo India as one of the year’s top ten “coolest” microscopic images.

Salehi’s close-up of a mouse hippocampus was created using the same basic technique and microscope that many school kids use to magnify objects in biology classes. The technique is called bright field microscopy because the microscope lights up the the field of view where an object, such as a brain, is magnified.

Holly MacCormick is a writing intern in the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs. She is a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at University of California-Santa Cruz.

Photo courtesy of Ahmad Salehi

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Sigmoid volvulus


This week’s image comes to us via Figure 1, a smartphone app that’s a virtual library where medical professionals can upload and share medical images. This particular image is an X-ray of a twist in the sigmoid colon that results in a condition called sigmoid volvulus. A hip replacement can also be seen on this X-ray.

Much like a garden hose, the kinked section of the intestine balloons in size as pressure increases. The puffy upside-down “U” shape that fills this patient’s abdomen is the section of the intestine that is cut off from the rest of the intestine by the twist.

This alarming and uncomfortable condition can be corrected with surgery.

Photo via Figure 1

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Light-painted photo captures the bare bones of winter

Image of the Week: Light-painted photo captures the bare bones of winter
As winter approaches it strips the honeyed glow of fall from the trees. In this period of transition, you can see the soon-to-be-winterized skeletons that will remain – the trunks and branches that are the forest’s bones. In the image above, entitled Hello Winter, Finnish artist Janne Parviainen used a form of long-exposure, slow shutter speed photography, called light painting, to play with similarities between the human form and the change of seasons.
From Parviainen’s description of this work:

The photo was done last year just before the first snow came to Helsinki. I live near the street in this photo and I always admire how beautiful the street and the trees look in autumn. As a child, I was very impressed by the symbolism in Finnish paintings of winter, and wanted to make my own interpretation of the subject whilst capturing the beauty of the scene and the feeling of oncoming winter.

All my light art photos are straight from the camera, no post processing of any kind has been done to them.

Photo by Janne Parviainen


Image of the Week

Image of the Week: School of medicine faculty member captures beauty in Stanford’s backyard

Image of the Week: School of medicine faculty member captures beauty in Stanford's backyard

Calif Coast 3 birds_resized560

When I sat down to write last week’s story on the School of Medicine’s art exhibit, I thought the most difficult aspect of the piece would be weaving six different interviews into one coherent story. I was wrong. The most difficult task was choosing just one photo to accompany the story. Happily, I discovered a loophole that allows me to show you two images related to this one story.

The image above was taken by one of the artists featured in the exhibit at Stanford’s Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. Professor Matthew Scott, PhD, told me that these elegant seabirds are avocets and that the photo was taken ”right here in Stanford’s backyard, in the amazing Palo Alto Baylands.”

Previously: Stanford’s School of Medicine Art Exhibit displays faculty’s artistic sideMore than shiny: Stanford’s new sculpture by Alyson Shotz and Image of the Week: Artful arches from Stanford’s Art Exhibit Extravaganza 2013
Photo by Matthew Scott, PhD

Image of the Week, Pain

Image of the Week: The agony of pain

Image of the Week: The agony of pain

Pain Image

As my colleague wrote about last week, the current issue of Stanford magazine includes a feature, “Make It Stop,” on the pain research happening here. The image above - in my mind, the perfect representation of intense, all-encompassing pain – accompanies the article and makes Kristin Sainani’s piece that much more compelling.

Previously: Stanford researchers address the complexities of chronic pain
Photo by Lukasz Szyszka

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Neuron behavior and autism

Image of the Week: Neuron behavior and autism


Neurons, with their fingerlike projections, tend to look like the aftermath of a bunch of paint cans overturned. But, if you can convince yourself that the image above isn’t the result of a careless paint job, you’ll see that the neurons dyed either red or yellow are similar, with some differences.

As Amy Adams explains on the California Stem Cell Agency‘s (CIRM) blog, these particular splotches of “paint” are the product of researchers from the lab of Ricardo Dolmetsch, PhD.

The streaks in yellow are neurons grown from the skin of healthy humans that lack a particular genetic disorder. The neurons in red were generated from humans with the genetic disorder Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMDS). This syndrome affects proteins found in organs such as the brain and can result in a variety of symptoms ranging from difficulty sleeping, to cognitive issues, to problems regulating body temperature. This genetic disorder is also associated with a greater risk of autism.

The Dolmetsch team found that the PMDS and PMDS-free neurons behaved differently – the red neurons from people with the genetic disorder were unable to transmit signals as well as the the yellow neurons without the genetic disorder. The team’s findings were published in the journal Nature and are discussed in Adam’s story on the CIRM blog.

Previously: More Stanford findings on the autistic brainThe Reason I Jump: Insights on autism and communicationDirector of Stanford Autism Center responds to your questions on research and treatmentLight-switch seizure control? In a bright new study, researchers show how and New imaging analysis reveals distinct features of the autistic brain
Photo by Alex Shcheglovitov

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Halloween comes to Packard Children’s class for new mothers

Image of the Week: Halloween comes to Packard Children's class for new mothers


Every Tuesday, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital hosts a class for new parents called Mother-Baby Mornings. Last week’s class gave moms a chance to share tips and tricks to manage their new life as a parent, while their beautiful babies showed off their Halloween spirit.

The free weekly class is available to parents with infants up to six months of age. The New Family Program’s website provides more details.

Photo by Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Carbamide crystals

Image of the Week: Carbamide crystals


When I saw this cacophony of color I knew I’d found my image of the week, but you’d never know it from reading the photo’s caption alone. The simple caption of this Wellcome image reads, “crystals of urea.”

Urea, also known as carbamide, is a waste product that’s formed by humans – and other mammals, some fish and amphibians – when our bodies break down proteins. When we digest proteins, such as proteins in our food, it first forms a highly toxic compound, called ammonia. Fortunately, our bodies quickly convert ammonia to urea – a much less harmful waste product – and the urea is excreted from our bodies in urine.

Photo by Spike Walker/Wellcome Images

Image of the Week

Image of the Week: Doctor-artist elevates the task of presenting a PhD thesis to an artform

Image of the Week: Doctor-artist elevates the task of presenting a PhD thesis to an artform


I had a terrible time writing the rough draft of my thesis. Then a wise friend told me that the first draft didn’t need to be a work of art; “just get it on the page.”

Artist and resident physician Stephen Gaeta, MD, PhD, took this advice one step further. Not only did he get his thesis on the page, he created a work of art in the process. The result is the image shown above, entitled Beat Poetry.

I talked with Gaeta earlier this week to learn what inspired this fusion of art, science and writing. Gaeta told me that after he finished his graduate research on cardiac arrhythmias he wanted to share the results of his hard work with others.  He thought of displaying a figure from his thesis as art, but “not many people want a poster of a T wave alternans on their wall.”

Then he got the idea to warp the text of his thesis to create an image of an anatomical heart. He “signed” his artwork by adding an EKG of his own heartbeat at the bottom of his image.

“I didn’t expect many people to read my work,” Gaeta told me. “Now, not only have many people read it, they have it hanging on their walls.”

You can view and order posters of Gaeta’s images created with text from classical scientific and medical works from his store on StreetAnatomy.

Artwork by Stephen Gaeta

Image of the Week, Science, Stanford News

Image of the Week: Stanford Nobelists celebrate

Image of the Week: Stanford Nobelists celebrate

Four Nobellists resized

What an eventful week for Stanford’s School of Medicine! Two days after molecular neuroscientist Thomas Südhof, MD, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, we learned that another faculty member, Michael Levitt, PhD, was winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. At Wednesday’s press conference on campus, Levitt (second-to-right in the photo above) found himself in good company: Though Südhof was still in Europe, conference attendees included Levitt’s fellow Nobelists (from left to right) Andrew Fire, PhD (Medicine, 2006); Roger Kornberg, PhD (Chemistry, 2006); and Brian Kobilka, MD (Chemistry, 2012).

Previously: Stanford’s Michael Levitt wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Stanford’s Thomas Südhof wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Stanford’s Brian Kobilka wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Photo by L.A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

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