Peter Mac News

MicroART 2023 Winner

19 September 2023

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It looks like an abstract painting with swirls of florescent pink and splodges of vibrant blue, yellow and green – but it’s in fact a photograph of a fruit fly eye magnified  40 times.

The striking image, captured by Dr Katrina Mitchell, has taken out Peter Mac’s  MicroART 2023 – a microscopy image exhibition and competition run for National Science Week. 

Decided by public vote, the image titled “In the Eye of the Beholder”, took out the title after thousands of public votes across the week. 

Dr Mitchell is a post-doctoral researcher in Professor Kieran Harvey’s lab who uses the fruit flyies (scientific name Drosophila melanogaster) to investigate how the Hippo pathway controls growth and cancer.

Put simply, the Hippo pathway is a complex network of proteins that control organ size via regulation of cell growth, cell death and differentiation.

“The developing fruit fly eye allows us to investigate how growth is controlled, and how the genes controlling growth can become disrupted to cause tumours,” Katrina explains. 

“Normally the developing eye is a flat tissue composed of epithelial cells. However, when an important growth gene is disrupted or mutated, the eye becomes overgrown due to an increased cell number.

“Through understanding the fine balance of growth control, we hope to learn more about the processes underpinning cancer.”

In Dr Mitchell’s winning image, we can see over-growth of cells in blue, with this increase leading to the folding in the tissue seen in pink. 

The image was one of 12 finalists in this years’ competition, each helping to deliver a deeper understanding of the science behind cancer research.

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They were captured in Peter Mac’s Centre for Advanced Histology and Microscopy – a core facility providing the very best microscopy technology for the more than 750 cancer researchers who work in the building.  

“We’re just delighted that so many people engaged with the exhibition and learned more about the work we do in an incredibly beautiful and engaging way,” CAHM Manager Metta Jana said. 

“A huge thanks to everyone who took the time to submit their work – the calibre of images was outstanding this year.”

Dr Mitchell’s  image was captured on an Olympus FV3000 live cell microscope, a type of confocal laser scanning microscope.

To find out more about Katrina’s work, follow her on Twitter @KatMitchell_Sci.​​​​​​​

The MicroART exhibition remains in place in level 7 at Peter Mac for a few more weeks.