Click through to see all 22 winners ->
Vessels of a healthy mini-pig eye
Peter M Maloca, OCTlab at the University of Basel and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London; Christian Schwaller; Ruslan Hlushchuk, University of Bern; Sébastien Barré
This 3D-printed model of a pig’s eye shows the intricate network of blood vessels that bring vital energy and food to the muscles surrounding the iris, which controls the level of light that enters the eye. The smallest vessels are only 0.02-0.03mm in diameter.
Language pathways of the brain
Stephanie J Forkel and Ahmad Beyh, Natbrainlab, King’s College London; Alfonso de Lara Rubio, King’s College London
We have all heard the expression exercising our grey matter, which is a collection of cells in the brain responsible for processing information, but it is the white matter that connects these cells together. This 3D-printed reconstruction shows the arcuate fasciculus, or the white matter pathway, between two different brain regions.
Stickman – The Vicissitudes of Crohn’s (Resolution)
This haunting picture of a character called Stickman is part of a series that explores the artist’s battle with Crohn’s disease, a condition that afflicts the digestive system, and was the overall winner of the Wellcome Image Awards 2017. Being made of sticks, not bones, it represents the fragility of the sufferer when the condition flares up, and references the associated weight loss.
Surface of a mouse retina
Gabriel Luna, Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara
This magnificent picture is a composite of more than 400 images of a mouse’s retina. Blue blood vessels can be seen emanating from the centre, feeding the red and green cells called Astrocytes, which are important for nerve survival and regeneration.
Unravelled DNA in a human lung cell
Ezequiel Miron, University of Oxford
Mitosis is the process of cell division and is how DNA found in the nucleus of a cell is copied to new ones. Here, in a daughter cell, the DNA has been caught and is deforming the normally circular cell.
Developing spinal cord
Gabriel Galea, University College London
The spine is one of the most important bones in the body as it protects the spinal chord, which connects all the nerves in our body to the brain. These three images show the different parts of the neural tube in mice, which develops during the first month of pregnancy into the brain, spinal chord and nerves.
Zebrafish eye and neuromasts
Ingrid Lekk and Steve Wilson, University College London
This mysterious picture of a zebrafish eye was created using DNA-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 to insert a gene that fluoresces red when activated. It has been used to study cells called neuromasts, which help the fish respond to surrounding water movements, essential in schooling and avoiding predators.
Cat skin and blood supply
This may not be the cutest image of a cat on the internet, but it is fascinating nonetheless. It shows a section of cat skin taken from a Victorian microscope slide, and the fine hairs and thicker whiskers in yellow, and blood vessels in black.
Caricatural medieval medical practitioners
Madeleine Kuijper, Madeleine Kuijper Illustraties
Although they look like the works of Hieronymus Bosch, they are in fact caricatures of medieval paintings by Dutch artist Madeleine Kuijper, depicting (clockwise from top left) a parody of alchemy, a man with disordered limbs, a operation and brain surgery.
The Placenta Rainbow
Suchita Nadkarni, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London
The rainbow colours of the different mouse placentas here are created by stains that respond to different proteins – blue shows the cell’s nucleus, red shows blood vessels and green trophoblasts, the first cells to form in an embryo. The placentas are all from mice between days 12 and 20 during their gestation cycle, and are different colours due to the differences in development as a result of manipulating the mother’s immune system.
Intraocular lens ‘iris clip’
Mark Bartley, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Used to treat conditions such as myopia and cataracts, an artificial intraocular lens (or iris clip) is a thin lens that fits onto the eye and held in place using plastic side supports. The 70-year-old man in this photo regained almost full vision after the lens was fitted.
Two young boys in rural Nicaragua
Hard labour and hot temperatures are a key factor in developing Chronic kidney disease of non-traditional causes (CKDnT), a disease that has ravaged the Nicaraguan town of Chichigalpa. These two brothers have lost two cousins to the disease, both cutters in the local sugarcane fields, just two of the more than 20,000 estimated casualties from the town over the past two decades.
Patient receiving treatment during outreach eye screening in India
Unite For Sight is a charity founded in 2000 with the aim of improving global eye health. In that time they have provided more than 90,000 cataract surgeries cared for some 1.9 million people in clinics like this one in India.
#breastcancer Twitter connections
Eric Clarke, Richard Arnett and Jane Burns, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Although this looks like it could be a network of nerves or blood vessels, it is in fact an infographic showing the relationship of Twitter users surrounding the hashtag #breastcancer.
MicroRNA scaffold cancer therapy
João Conde, Nuria Oliva and Natalie Artzi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MicroRNAs are the short genetic sequences that control the function and growth of cell, making them a possible tool in the quest for an effective cancer therapy. This ‘scaffold’ is designed to deliver specialised microRNAs to cancerous cells, suppressing tumour growth and preventing further spread. So far tests in mice have reduced tumours in mice by 90 per cent in only two weeks.
Synthetic DNA channel transporting cargo across membranes
The membrane surrounding every cell is spanned by protein channels that allow communication between the cell and its environment. Researchers are using DNA to create synthetic channels – seen here as mirrored coils – that behave in the same way, making them useful for vaccinations, biosensors and research.
‘Hidden Learning’, from the Chrysalis project
Original painting by Sophie McKay Knight, with imagery contributed by women scientists from the University of St Andrews – part of the Chrysalis project coordinated by Mhairi Stewart
This evocative image explores the feelings women keep hidden from view in the work environment and is part of a project at the University of St Andrews called Chrysalis, designed to bring together women in science together to talk about their careers and seek advice and inspiration.
Scott Echols, Scarlet Imaging and the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project
Blood not only supplies oxygen to cells but regulates body temperature through a process called thermoregulation. Here, the blood supply of a pigeon is seen in exquisite detail through a process developed by the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, which creates technology that enables us to better understand animal anatomy.
Daria Kirpach/Salzman International
Rita Levi-Montalcini was an Italian neurobiologist and the joint recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF), increasing our understanding of many conditions, including tumours, developmental malformations and dementia.
Hawaiian bobtail squid
Mark R Smith, Macroscopic Solutions
This tiny 1.5cm-long Hawiaiian bobtail squid holds an illuminating secret inside its body – a colony of bioluminescent bacteria called Vibrio fischeri, which help the squid appear invisible to predators below by mimicking starlight in return for food and shelter.
Collin Edington and Iris Lee, © Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
The Human-on-a-Chip project creates miniature organs on plastic chips to test the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines without the need for animal testing. This image shows the growth of nerve fibres on a neural stem cell to see how environments affect the structural organisation of the cell.
Blood vessels of the African grey parrot
Scott Birch and Scott Echols
Like the pigeon image before it, this 3D reconstruction shows the incredible network of vessels supplying blood to the bird’s brain.
For 20 years the Wellcome Image Awards has been fascinating us with their incredible images from the world of science and medicine. This year the winning selection ranges from incredibly detailed photography of cells to the overall winner, a beautiful illustration showing the artist's struggle with Crohn’s disease.
Our very own James Cutmore was on the judging panel, who had this to say of the process:
“One of the many advantages of being picture editor of BBC Focus magazine is being asked to be a judge on the annual Wellcome Trust Image Awards. For me, this is a great opportunity to look through literally hundreds of interesting science images, and deliberate over their various merits with some big names in the professional science world. The competition always provokes some interesting debates amongst the judges as we vie to include our personal favourites in the final selection."
The winning images are being exhibited in venues across the UK, Europe and Africa.