Photographs Taken Through Microscopes to Arrive at Wistar

Photographs Taken Through Microscopes to Arrive at Wistar

January 5, 2008

(PHILADELPHIA — January 6, 2008) — In science, discoveries depend on the power of the tools available to the investigator. Advanced telescopes reveal the secrets of deep space to astronomers, for example. Similarly for biologists, ever more sophisticated microscopes open new windows on the intricate structures and subtle processes of life, leading to scientific discovery and medical progress.

Nikon’s annual Small World competition, now in its 33rd year, celebrates the complexity and beauty of the world as captured in photographs taken through the microscope. On Friday, the 20 winning images from the contest, which combine originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and visual impact, will arrive at The Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce St., for an eight-week stay. The exhibition will be displayed in the Institute’s atrium.

An invitation-only reception at 6:30 p.m. Friday evening, sponsored by Nikon Instruments dealer Optical Apparatus Inc., of Ardmore, Pa., will welcome the exhibition to Wistar. From Monday, January 14, through Friday, February 29, the exhibition will be open to the public at no charge. Hours for the exhibition are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

During the run of the exhibit, guided tours of the exhibition will be available to area science teachers and their students by special arrangement. James E. Hayden, manager of Wistar’s microscopy facility and a previous winner and judge of the Small World competition, will lead the tours, providing an overview of the role microscopes play in biological research at Wistar and explaining how selected photographs from the exhibit were made, as well as the biological significance of their subjects. (Teachers can arrange a tour by contacting Lee Shurtz at 215-898-3790 or

The opening reception will feature a talk by Gloria Kwon, a researcher at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute, whose image of a mouse embryo captured first place from among 1,700 entries this year. Also speaking will be Lee Shuett, executive vice president of Nikon Instruments Inc., and Wistar’s Hayden. Discussion will focus on the role of imagery in scientific research, as well as the career paths of those who become involved with photomicrography.

“Nikon Small World provides the opportunity for the general public to experience the beauty that can be generated through scientific research,” Shuett notes. “As digital imaging capabilities continue to advance, our abilities to capture and share the tiniest of objects continues to grow.”

“Images like those on display in the Small World exhibit are helping to stimulate and inspire a new generation,” says Hayden, who is also coordinator of the exhibition at Wistar. “Whether that inspiration results in the development of a new scientist, an avant garde artist, an optical engineer, or an instrumentation businessman depends on the perception of the young viewer. At the Wistar Institute, we hope to play a part in motivating young minds as we advance the frontiers of biomedical science.”

Philadelphia-area students can vote for their favorite images by visiting and entering the passcode “Wistar” through January 31. Results of the voting will be posted on the site.

The Nikon Small World contest was founded in 1974 to recognize excellence in photography through the microscope. Each year, Nikon makes the winning images accessible to the public through the Nikon Small World calendar, a national museum tour, and an electronic gallery featured at

EDITOR’S NOTE: High-resolution versions of the 20 winning images, suitable for print publication, are available from The Wistar Institute’s public relations office or from Nikon directly.

The Wistar Institute has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the creation of the rubella vaccine that eradicated the disease in the United States, human rabies vaccines used worldwide, and a new rotavirus vaccine approved in 2006. Today, Wistar is home to preeminent research programs studying skin cancer, lung cancer, and brain tumors. Wistar Institute Vaccine Center scientists are creating new vaccines against pandemic influenza, HIV, and other diseases threatening global health. The Institute works actively to transfer its inventions to the commercial sector to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. 
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