A researcher from Australia has taken home the title of best scientific photograph for her image showing cancerous cells, which she captured while studying the progression of breast cancer.

The BMC Research in Progress Photo Competition received submissions from around the world, such as Nepal, Iraq, China and Brazil.

The entries included images of flowers, birds, butterflies, a bear living in captivity, and diseases like Zika and Dengue being studied in a lab.

The winner, entitled I Heart Research, was a photograph of a tumour from a mouse in the shape of a heart that had been fluorescently labelled for inspection through a microscope.

The photographer Sarah Boyle, of the Centre for Cancer Biology in Adelaide, Australia, said: “I took it as part of my research into breast cancer and for me it really shows how processes that we researchers use almost on a daily basis – such as fluorescent labelling and microscopy – can reveal stunning shapes and colours in things like human cells.

“As part of our research into breast cancer, we are able to use specialist microscopes and imaging equipment to make visible different proteins.

“The tumour we see in this image is fluorescently labelled red for the active form of a protein whose levels may increase as cancer develops.”

I Heart Research photographer Sarah Boyle
Sarah Boyle

The competition was run by BioMed Central (BMC), which publishes scientific journals, the Independent reported.

Rachel Burley, BMC’s publishing director, said: “This image demonstrates the ability of science and research to discover surprises even in the most unlikely of places, as well as the enthusiasm researchers have for their work.

“It is visually stunning and its bold colours and jewel-like shape really made it stand out to our judges,” added Burley.

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