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'Celldance 2011' reveals beauty and danger in microscopic world of cells

Beautiful, astounding, and at times lethal, life on the cellular level comes into vivid focus in the seven dazzling videos just named winners in "Celldance 2011," the American Society for Cell Biology's (ASCB) film contest.

The winning entries showing the cell, the structural and functional unit of all living organisms, in video action were announced at Sat., Dec. 3, 2011, at the ASCB 2011 annual meeting in Denver.

The top winners will receive $1,000 in cash prizes at the Celldance awards ceremony, Tues., Dec. 6, at the Colorado Convention Center.

Cell biology is considered the most visual of all the life sciences because research has always been driven by new imaging technologies that reveal the structure and function of living organisms at microscopic and submicroscopic scale.

The "stars" of "Celldance 2011" range from fibroblasts, the most common cells in connective tissue, to a "cancer dance" visible in the plasma membrane of tumor cells.

The seven award-winning Celldance 2011 videos are posted at-

The first-place award of $500 recognizes a time-lapse video of moving cancer cells in a laboratory culture. It was produced in Japan by Tsutomu Tomita of Timelapse Vision, Inc. Tomita's "Cancer Dance: The Plasma Membrane in Normal and Transformed Cells" was recorded through an inverted microscope by a digital camera.

The "Public Outreach" award will be presented to Bin He, a graduate student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, for his video, "Animation of Chromosome Alignment and the Spindle Assembly Checkpoint." The animation, made with Autodesk Maya and composed with Adobe After Effects, visualizes how each chromosome in a pair segregates during cell division, so that each of the two new "daughter" cells has a chromosome from each pair. Cell biologists refer to this cellular process as spindle assembly during mitosis.

The second place "Celldance" award singles out "Mechanosensing," by Justin Mih, Sc.D., of Matrigen, LLC, in Worcester, MA. The video of time-lapse images illustrates that cell morphology and perhaps other aspects of cell function can be controlled by the stiffness of the extracellular matrix the tissue that provides structural support to cells. The video shows lab cultures of human fibroblasts, the most common cells in connective tissues in the body.

The video, "Live Imaging of Cycling and Arrested Tumor Cells," will be recognized with the third-place award. Created by Neil Ganem, Ph.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the video shows tetraloid cells during the process known as cell cycle arrest, which prevents these abnormal cells from completing cell division, and thereby replication. Tetraloid cells, which have an excess of chromosomes, are defective byproducts of cell division and long recognized as tumor promoters. However, these cells are normally prevented from dividing by the activation of the p53 apoptosis gene.

"Celldance 2011" judges, who are ASCB members, recognized the following videos with "Honorable Mentions."

  • "Drosophila Embryo Development," by U. Serdar Tulu, Duke University.

  • "Hurricane: Cell Cytoplasm Movements," by Dong-Hwee Kim, Johns Hopkins University.

  • "Live Fluorescence Imaging of Fibroblasts" by Luo Weiwei, Mechanobiology Institute, University of Singapore.


Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
American Society for Cell Biology

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