Leading scientists working at the heart of research into the UK's biggest killer are celebrating after winning a national British Heart Foundation (BHF) competition. Dr Patrick Hales, from the BHF Experimental Magnetic Resonance Unit, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, was a runner-up for his image 'Heart Strings' (pictured right).
As part of National Heart Month the Reflections of Research competition invited BHF funded scientists across the UK to submit fascinating images and videos which represent their field of research. The images and videos show the vast variety of pioneering UK work that is helping to unearth new ways to tackle heart and circulatory disease.
The winning images and videos were chosen by a panel of experts including Dr Alice Roberts, scientist, broadcaster and member of the BHF's governing council, Andrew Cohen, editor of BBC Horizon, Eric Hilaire, science picture editor at the Guardian and Professor Sir Christopher Edwards, Chairman of BHF Council (pictured below, presenting Dr Hales with his award).
The 'Heart Strings' image was generated from an MRI scan of a heart, using a technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging. The scan tracks the movement of water molecules throughout the heart muscle, which reveals how the muscle cells are aligned. Resultantly, the streamlines shown in the image represent the orientation of ‘muscle fibres' in the heart's biggest chamber, the left ventricle.
Dr Patrick Hales: "This technology allows us to model the structure of muscles in the heart in a non-invasive way, and how diseases can cause it to change. In the future, we hope that our research might be able to determine how the structure of the heart is damaged during a heart attack, and how the muscle fibres respond.
"We also hope that our computer models of individual hearts will one day be used as a tool for diagnosis, and could even provide patient-specific assessment of treatment options. Imagine your doctor trying out treatments on a ‘virtual' version of you, before choosing the right prescription."
This image was produced as part of a collaborative research project between researchers at medical, basic science, and computing departments at Oxford University, funded jointly by the BHF and the BBSRC.
"A beautifully original picture that is surprising in both its visual impact and the information it conveys." - Andrew Cohen
"Beautiful image, showcasing interesting new diagnostic technology" - Alice Roberts