Four members win
FASEB BioArt contest

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology announced in October the winners of its third annual BioArt contest. Four members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology submitted three of the winning entries.

“Biological scientists create a variety of images and videos as part everyday research activities – from the collection of image-based data to the visualization of results,” said Joseph R. Haywood, a professor at Michigan State University and the president of FASEB. “These spectacular winning entries illustrate only a small segment of the exciting research being conducted throughout the country.”

The winning images, all of which were derived from research supported by the National Institutes of Health, will be displayed for the next year at the NIH Visitor Center and Nobel Laureate Exhibit Hall.

For more information about the competition and to see all 10 of the winning entries, plus two featured videos, visit

Gökhan Tolun1,2, Alexander M. Makhov1,3 (ASBMB), Steven J. Ludtke4 and Jack D. Griffith1 (ASBMB)

1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2National Institutes of Health
3University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
4Baylor College of Medicine

Research focus: Viral replication

The infected cell protein 8, or ICP8, of herpes simplex virus 1, or HSV-1, has a vital role in viral replication. It is involved in DNA replication, recombination and repair. To determine the structure of ICP8 when it is bound to single-stranded DNA, researchers used a method called single-particle reconstruction, which uses specialized software to generate a 3-D structure from the 2-D electron microscopy images. The reconstructed structure of ICP8 (blue) shows that it is composed of two nine-subunit rings that are stacked on top of each other and illustrates a hypothesized mechanism joining two single DNA strands (red lines) to form a double helix. One of the original electron microcopy images used for single-particle reconstruction can be seen in the background. The National Cancer Institute, National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences provided support for this research.

Janet Iwasa (ASBMB)

University of Utah

Research focus: HIV

This 3-D model of a human immunodeficiency virus particle shows the membrane (green) surrounding the viral capsid (yellow-orange pinwheels) with the viral RNA genome (blue lines) inside. It was created as part of the Science of HIV project, which is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The goal of the project is to create a scientifically accurate and visually compelling 3-D animation of the HIV life cycle, highlighting structural findings. Three-dimensional animation software is used to convert crystallographic and electron microcopy data into illustrations and animations.

Peter Barr-Gillespie (ASBMB) and Kateri Spinelli

Oregon Health & Science University

Research focus: The mechanism of mechanotransduction by the inner ear

To hear, sensory hair cells in the inner ear detect sound waves as vibrations and transmit this information to the brain. This scanning electron microscopy image shows the surface of sensory hair cells from a chick. Each hair cell has a tuft (or hair bundle) of thin and long projections, which are known as stereocilia. Vibrations cause the hair bundles to oscillate, activating ion channels and turning sound into a chemical signal. Supporting cells also are apparent in this image; they form a furry outline around the sensory hair cells. Expanding our knowledge of how hair bundles work should lead to better methods for detecting and treating hearing loss and disrupted balance. The research is supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.