Reflections of Research

Reflections of Research is our annual competition, reflecting the groundbreaking research we fund through images. This research would not be possible without your donations. 

We know that our driven researchers carry out cutting-edge, painstaking research every day and we want them to share a picture of this research.

The most engaging and exciting image is awarded the British Heart Foundation’s Reflection of Research Judges' Winner by a panel of judges, and our Facebook supporters pick the Supporters' Favourite.

Reflections of Research 2017 

The winners of our 2017 competition were announced on Friday 18 August and we're pleased to share those winners with you below. 

View the complete 2017 shortlist

Getting to the heart of the matter - Fraser Macrae, University of Leeds (judges' winner)

a zoomed-in image of a blood clot

This year’s winning image takes us inside a deadly blood clot - the leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

When we’re injured blood clots are life-savers, preventing us from losing too much blood. However, when blood clots form unnecessarily inside blood vessels, they can be deadly. 

In the image red blood cells are trapped in the 3D mesh of fibrin fibres, which hold the clot together. One red blood cell had been compressed into a heart shape by the contracting fibres surrounding it. 

Image author Fraser Macrae at the University of Leeds is using state-of-the-art methods to study the structure of blood clots and investigate how the fibre arrangements change their sensitivity to clot busting drugs. 

Incredible beauty

One of the judges of this year's competition, Royal Photographer at Getty Images Christopher Jackson, said:

“This image tells a story of how science and art can come together to help advance our knowledge of modern medicine. At the same time, images like this give us the opportunity to appreciate the incredible beauty in something that is invisible to the human eye.” 

An artery's insides - Dr Matthew Lee, University of Strathclyde (supporter's choice)

inside an artery 

This image, voted supporter’s favourite, takes us inside innermost layer of a blood vessel. 

This layer, the endothelium, is a complicated network of cells lining our entire vascular system. Groups of endothelial cells (shown here in purple) operate as an interconnected network, like a modern telecommunication system, to detect and relay signals. 

If this layer malfunctions, the structure and function of the blood vessel changes, leading to diseases such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. 

Because the endothelium is in the innermost part of blood vessels, it is difficult to study. Image author, Dr Mathew Lee and his colleagues at the University of Strathclyde have developed a new imaging system to visualise the signals sent by the endothelium from inside arteries. 

By understanding how normal healthy endothelium works and what changes take place in disease the research team hope to generate new treatments targeting the blood vessel.

More than just a pretty picture

Simon Gillespie, our Executive Director and one of this year’s judges, said:

“Each of these stunning images tells a story about the BHF’s world-leading research in the fight against heart and circulatory diseases.

“Science relies increasingly on ever more sophisticated imaging techniques to help us to see the cellular and molecular processes that conspire to create disease. So whilst this competition is all about the picture, it’s the story behind each one that will save and transform lives.”

View the 2017 shortlist

Previous winners

The competition has been running since 2005. See the spectacular images our scientists have previously entered into our Reflections of Research competition.