Mohun lab

056: Mohun lab

Created by Christina McGuire

The foundation of the canvas is a 3-micron thick HREM image of a 14.5 day old embryo that has been down-sampled to remove some of the detail, to enable it to print clearly on fabric. The image was then colourised and printed onto canvas.

I’ve worked in Tim’s group on the DMDD project for just over a year and, coming from a non-science background, have been amazed at how fascinating a tiny 14.5 day mouse embryo could be. My first draft for the canvas involved covering over quite a bit of the embryo, but when I compared what I had produced with the original I realised that what I really wanted to do with the image was to enhance it, rather than mask it. So I aimed to use as little as possible to highlight some of the developing structures, but also keep most of them visible. I spent a lot of time laying things on top, rearranging them and removing them.

I used metallic paint, silver thread, beads, glitter and angelica fibres, accentuating the beauty and delicacy of this tiny, 10mm tall embryo. The image was chosen as it represents both the Mohun group research on heart development, and the Wellcome Trust-funded DMDD programme. This aims to study “embryonic lethal” mouse mutations, and begin to understand why their mutation has such profound effects on embryo development and survival. I also like the metaphor that the heart is at the centre; it seemed to fit in with the ethos of the canvas project, and the spirit of NIMR. If I did it again I’d make sure the canvas was cream (to fit in more with the others) and a closer weave.

Thanks to all in the lab, and especially to Norma Towers for her expertise and support in printing on fabric.

HREM (high resolution episcopic microscopy) imaging relies upon the capture of sequential images of the embedded specimen block face during the sectioning process, rather than imaging individual sections that have been subject to histological staining. HREM data can be analysed either as 2D image stacks or by 3D rendering and can reveal alterations in morphology that are impossible to detect using lower resolution techniques such as optical projection tomography (OPT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Micro-CT.

056-Mohun lab