Striking, Cutting-Edge Scientific Images Now on Display at Washington Dulles International Airport

Photo of Developing zebrafish fin. Originally from the waters of India, Nepal and neighboring countries, zebrafish can now be found swimming in science labs (and home aquariums) throughout the world. This fish is a favorite study subject for scientists interested in how genes guide the early stages of prenatal development—including the developing fin shown here—and in the effects of environmental contamination on embryos. Photo credit: Jessica Plavicki, University of Wisconsin, Madison
In this photo bubonic plague bacteria (yellow) are shown in the digestive system of a rat flea (purple). Carried by rodents and spread by fleas, the bubonic plague killed a third of Europeans in the mid-14th century. Today, it is still active in Africa, Asia and the Americas, with as many as 2,000 people infected worldwide each year. If caught early, bubonic plague can be treated with antibiotics. Photo credit: B. Joseph Hinnebusch, Elizabeth Fischer and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
Photo of Skin cell (keratinocyte). This normal human skin cell was treated with a growth factor that triggered the formation of specialized protein structures that enable the cell to move. We depend on cell movement for such basic functions as wound healing and launching an immune response. Photo credit: Torsten Wittmann, University of California, San Francisco
This is a close-up view of the cerebellum, the brain's locomotion control center. Photo credit: Thomas Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, University of California, San Diego
In this photo a mouse's fat cells (red) are shown surrounded by a network of blood vessels (green). Fat cells store and release energy, protect organs and nerve tissues, insulate us from the cold and help us absorb important vitamins. Photo credit: Daniela Malide, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health
Images in the Life: Magnified exhibit feature striking cellular architectures in fluorescent colors.

Stunning scientific images of blood, brain, bacteria, viruses and more, enlarged by as much as 50,000 times, are on display in an exhibit called Life: Magnified, on view through November 2014 at Washington Dulles International Airport's Gateway Gallery. The gallery, en route to Concourse C, is in a two-level walkway through which about 2.5 million passengers pass each year.

The display is cosponsored by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's Arts Program. The program uses the arts to enhance travel experiences at Dulles International and Reagan National Airports.

"These images show science that shines like art. Many of these stunning pictures were created by researchers who work at or are funded by NIH, as part of their quest to better understand basic life processes and gain insights about health and disease," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

"We hope this exhibit helps inform the public about cutting-edge biomedical research and how visualizing biology, with all its complexity and beauty, can lead to important, medically relevant advances," said NIGMS Director Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D.

"Many of the images come from organisms like mice, fruit flies and zebrafish. These organisms have much in common with us, including a large proportion of their genes, the way their tissues and organs develop, and how their bodies function. Studying them speeds scientific progress to learn more about our own biology," Lorsch added.

The 46 colorful backlit enlargements in the exhibit were selected from more than 600 submitted by researchers. In addition to the variety of organisms, the collection features a wide range of cell types and imaging techniques.

"The Gateway Gallery has traditionally welcomed passengers to Dulles International through its unique and engaging art displays," said Christopher U. Browne, Washington Dulles International Airport manager. "This exhibit will add to the enjoyment of the airport experience while offering travelers an intriguing, up-close view of life on a microscopic level."

"This eye-popping show lets visitors take a dazzling trip through the cellular world, which is both foreign and as close as their own skin," said ASCB Executive Director Stefano Bertuzzi.

Although only passengers who pass through airport security can see the exhibit itself, an online gallery is available at This site includes high-resolution versions of all of the images in the collection, along with longer captions than in the airport exhibit. All of the images are freely downloadable for non-commercial purposes.

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To arrange an interview with NIGMS Director Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 or through our contact form.

NIGMS is a part of NIH that supports basic research to increase our understanding of life processes and lay the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information on the Institute's research and training programs, see

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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