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Malte Kaller’s DPhil Research Image Wins Oxford Innovation Photography Competition

20th November 2017

Malte Kaller, currently in his third year of a DPhil in Neuroscience at Pembroke, has received several prizes in the University of Oxford’s recent Innovation Photography Competition: winner of the ‘Weird and Wonderful’ category and runner-up prize in the ‘Inspiration and Discovery’ section. The second image below was also judged the Overall Winner of the competition. 

The judges felt that Malte’s striking images of his research represented ‘incredible innovation’. They were particularly impressed with the second image below, which is of a failed result, as failure is a critical part of the innovation and learning process. The competition, which asked staff and students to showcase what innovation looks like in their work or study, ran during Michaelmas term 2017 and was the first ever University of Oxford Innovation Photography Competition.

This image was runner up in the ‘Inspiration and Discovery’ category. It stems from Malte’s research in ‘peripheral myelination’, which you can find out more about in this recent news article.

Taken with a Confocal Microscope in the West Wing of the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford (Spring 2016)

The image below won the ‘Weird and Wonderful’ category and was the Judge's Overall Winner. This was created using ‘fluorescent immunocytochemistry’, which means that specific targets (antigens) in biological tissues are labelled by specifically designed antibodies that bind to them. These antibodies are labelled with fluorescent markers that respond a specific wavelength of light. That means that different aspects of biological tissue can be specifically visualised by exposing it to lasers of different wavelength.

Taken with a Confocal Microscope in the West Wing of the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford (Summer, 2016)

This image shows human sensory neurons (red) that were created from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and cultured in a petri dish in the laboratory. These nerve cells, once skins cells in an adult human being who donated them, were then genetically reprogrammed into a stem cell-like state. This means that they regain the potential to turn into almost any cell type of the human body. The cells were then chemically differentiated into sensory neurons, a cell type that allows you to sense pain, pressure, temperature etc.

Malte commented: ‘The picture was part of an experiment with negative results, but captured my attention. There is something rather aesthetic and beautiful about this cluster of human cells, that looks more like a painting than a scientific experiment…’