Published on 14.05.2024

Best Scientific Image Contest 2024: Discover the Winners!

Group photo of Best Scientific Image Contest Winners 2024
Image: Jörg Modrow

In January 2024, Helmholtz Imaging launched its fourth consecutive call for Best Scientific Image submissions, drawing an impressive array of 127 high-quality images from the Helmholtz community. These images not only showcase the Helmholtz Association’s outstanding portfolio and expertise in imaging but also highlight their important role in contributing to solving significant societal challenges. From nanoscale to global perspectives, these images span all research fields and Helmholtz Centers.

Award Categories and Winners

The Best Scientific Image Contest awards were distributed in three categories. The Jury Award was decided by a high-ranking international panel of experts from the science communities as well as the arts. The Public Choice and Participants’ Choice Awards were voted on by members of the imaging community. This year, Siemens Healthineers and Zeiss donated generous prizes totaling €5,000.

The president of the Helmholtz Association of Research Centers Prof. Dr. Wiestler announced the winners of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2024 of Helmholtz Imaging:

Jury Award Winners

The winners of the Jury Award are:

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1st Place
More than just fat by Paul Morocho Jaramillo (MDC)

On this confocal image of an adult zebrafish heart epicardial fat is depicted. It reveals metabolic active beige-like adipocytes, challenging the notion of ectotherms having solely white adipose tissue.

Prize: €1,000 donated by Siemens Healthineers

2nd Place
Decontaminating metal pollution with hyperaccumulators by Kathryn Spiers, Dennis Brückner (DESY), Julien Jacquet, Gabrielle Michaudel (Econick SAS), and Antony van der Ent (Wageningen University)

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This high-resolution X-ray fluorescence image illustrates hyperaccumulation of nickel in the pollen of flowers. Toxic or other negative effects on insect pollinators are under investigation.

Prize: €700 donated by Zeiss

3rd Place
Conquering the cancer inferno by Sonja Fritzsche, Simon Schallenberg, José Nimo, and Fabian Coscia (MDC)

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This high-resolution microscopy image illustrates how cancer cells invade healthy tissue in the oral cavity.
Prize: €500 donated by Siemens Healthineers

Helmholtz President Otmar Wiestler presenting the winner of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2024
Prof. Dr. Wiestler presenting the winner of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2024 at the 4th Helmholtz Imaging Conference in Heidelberg. Photo: Jörg Modrow

Public Choice Award Winners

Prof. Dr. Dagmar Kainmüller, spokesperson of Helmholtz Imaging, announced the winners of the Public Choice Award and Participants’ Choice Award of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2024.

1st Place
Pain neurons or jellyfish? by Athanasios Balomenos and Lin Wang (MDC)

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This super-resolution microscopy image illustrates the molecular mechanism responsible for inducing neuropathic pain.

Prize: €700 donated by Zeiss

2nd Place
Cellular Lightsaber Fight by Johanna Rettenmeier, Kendra Maass, Tatjana Wedig and Kristian Pajtler (DKFZ)

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This image shows membrane dynamics of brain tumor cells which gives deeper insights into their communication strategies. This paves the way for novel treatment approaches inhibiting membranous communication.

Prize: €400 donated by Siemens Healthineers

3rd Place
Azobenzene Peacock feather Crystals by Sreevidya Thekku Veedu and Patrick Reinke (DESY)

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The image shows Azobenzene which is a commonly used molecular photo switch that can reversibly isomerize between two isomeric states, making it a promising example for applications in photobiology and photopharmacology.)

Prize: 200€ donated by Zeiss

Dagmar Kainmüller, HI spokesperson, introducing the winners of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2024
Prof. Dr. Dagmar Kainmüller presenting the Public Choice and Participants’ Award winners of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2024 at the 4th Helmholtz Imaging Conference in Heidelberg. Photo: Jörg Modrow

Participants’ Choice Award Winners

The winners of the Participants’ Choice Award of the Best Scientific Image Contest 2024 are:

1st Place
Gut ring by Daniel Postrach (DKFZ)

This image shows the intestine with its complex structures such as long villi, which here depicts an increased surface for absorption. Those villi are filled with immune cells and a complex mesh of blood vessels.

Prize: €800 donated by Siemens Healthineers

2nd Place
Pain neurons or jellyfish? by Athanasios Balomenos and Lin Wang (MDC)

Decorative image

This super-resolution microscopy image illustrates the molecular mechanism responsible for inducing neuropathic pain.

Prize: €400 donated by Zeiss

3rd Place
Unraveling ancient epistolary secrets by Philipp Paetzold, Andreas Schropp (DESY), Andreas Beckert, Samaneh Ehteram, Stephan Olbrich (Universität Hamburg) and Cécile Michel (CNRS)

This image shows a 3D visualization of a cuneiform text that was hidden in its envelope for 4 millennia. It was recorded at the Louvre with a custom-built portable X-ray micro-tomograph.

Prize: 300€ donated by Siemens Healthineers

Group photo of Best Scientific Image Contest Winners 2024
Group photo of the Best Scientific Image Contest Winners 2024 who were present during the 4th Helmholtz Imaging Conference. Photo: Jörg Modrow

Helmholtz Imaging extends heartfelt congratulations to all the 2024 contest winners and thanks everyone who participated this year. The top 20 images selected by the jury will be featured in a traveling exhibition across Germany, showcasing the exciting work by Helmholtz researchers (and partners) in the different Helmholtz Centers to increase the visibility of Helmholtz’ research and its fascinating research outcomes.

Stay tuned for the images of the top runners-up!

Explore and Connect:

Interested in showcasing the best 20 best scientific images of Helmholtz? Reach out! (mail: Katharina.Kriegel@helmholtz-imaging.de)

About Helmholtz Imaging:
Helmholtz Imaging‘s mission is to unlock the potential of imaging science in the Helmholtz Association. Image data provide a substantial part of data being generated in scientific research. Helmholtz Imaging is the overarching platform to better leverage and make accessible to everyone the innovative modalities, methodological richness, and data treasures of the Helmholtz Association.


We thank our donors Siemens Healthineers and Zeiss for their generous support in providing prizes for our image contest.

This image shows the logos of Siemens Healthineers and Zeiss.