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Celldance 2012 video awards, the 'Cell Oscars,' roll out tiny red carpet

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, December 17, 2012--A microscopic-scale "Star Wars" epic featuring cells brandishing light sabres, a time-lapse of a fruitfly's embryonic development, and the dance-like movement of cancer cells in lab cultures were recognized as the top three "Celldance" awards at the American Society for Cell Biology's Annual Meeting, in San Francisco. The special Public Outreach award went to "Invisible," a live action film about a boy's awakening to the wonders of the universe. It was a collaboration between scientists and filmmakers in Ireland.

"Cell biology is the most visual of the sciences, and our 'Celldance' awards have become the 'Cell Oscars,'" said Simon Atkinson, Ph.D., chairman of the ASCB's Public Information Committee (PIC), which organizes the competition. Dr. Atkinson is at the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Serving as PIC's chief judge for eighth edition of Celldance was Duane Compton, PhD, who is at the Dartmouth Medical School.

The complete winners' reel from "Celldance 2012," the ASCB's cell biology film contest, was posted online at:

The top cash prize of $500 for First Place went to Stephanie Nowotarski, a self-described microscopy enthusiast and a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Her winning time-lapse video, titled "Drosophila Dorsal Closure" telescopes the cell-by-cell embryonic development of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a commonly used laboratory model. Cells of two tissue types work together to close the dorsal, or back, midline of the embryonic fly.

The second place prize winner is Lynne Cassimeris, Ph.D., professor of cell biology at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, for her film, "Cell Wars." Dr. Cassimeris said the idea of a "Star Wars" parody emerged when her lab captured images of a cell waving a structure that resembled a light saber. When the cell divides, only one of the daughter cells has the same structure. Because of repeated cell divisions, over time the lab culture contains numerous saber-waving cells.

Tsutomu Tomita, Ph.D., University of Tsukuba & Timelapse Vision, Inc., Japan, received the third place award for the video "Cancer Dance Movement" which shows the movement of cancer cells in a laboratory culture of normal rat gastric cells.

The winning entry in Public Outreach, "Invisible" was a cooperative project between Emmanuel Reynaud, a cell biology researcher at University College, Dublin, and the Irish National Film with the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology. The film which features professional actors and shot on locations around Dublin was supported in part by the Science Foundation Ireland.

Two videos were recognized with honorable mentions:

  • Charlotte Smith, St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA, for her film "Organelle Motility in Retinal Pigment Epithelial C."
  • Vincent Gache, Ph.D., INSERM, Paris, France, for his film "Muscle Nuclei Positioning."

"Celldance," ASCB's annual cell biology filme contest, recognizes visually engaging and scientifically relevant videos and images. Most were created during research experiments into the cellular mechanisms that underlie an organism's development, health, and disease. That these processes are sometimes esthetically beautiful is one of the joys of scientific discovery, said Dr. Atkinson.

Contact: John Fleischman
American Society for Cell Biology

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