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The University of Alicante accumulates more first prizes in scientific photography.


Alicante, 2 November 2010

A scientist at the University of Alicante has added new first prizes this year for his scientific photography to the long list of awards that accumulates in this activity. This is Nicolas Cuenca, Professor in Cell Biology and Director of the Research Group in Visual System Neurobiology, who uses photography as a tool in his research on retina degenerative diseases.

The two most recent awards, both first prizes, added to those obtained since 2004 -individually or jointly with members of his team- are those under the section "best scientific picture of the year," by the Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SEBBM) and Vision Research of the European Vision Institute, both granted in unison with Laura Fernandez Sanchez, a researcher at the UA. This international award is added to the one already obtained individually from the same institute in the 2009 edition. In total, and since 2004,he has been awarded eight times, some with two awards in various categories within the same call. The most outstanding prize was awarded in 2008, jointly by the National Science Foundation and the prestigious journal Science.

These awards are in addition to other national and international prizes non-related to photography, granted by relevant scientific studies conducted by Nicolas Cuenca. This lecturer of the UA Department of Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology explains that the photographs made are not an end in itself but a means to develop his research into retinal degenerative diseases, particularly retinitis pigmentosa, for which he uses lab animals suffering from an ailment similar to that of a human being. Such research work is also carried out within the research network in Ophthalmology, called Retics, attached to the Ministry of Science's Health Institute 'Carlos III'. Retinitis pigmentosa, from genetic origin, begins in children or young people and the disease progresses slowly decreasing night vision and visual field up to blindness. Photographs can be followed from the degeneration of the affected tissue.

Apart from its scientific value, the images have an aesthetic value which makes them worthy of the awards or of being on the cover of scientific publications and exhibitions. This researcher takes them with high-precision confocal microscope, which uses laser illumination and allows high quality images. These photos are taken in the UA Microscopy Technical Services, from samples prepared by researchers.

Scientific photography prizes awarded to Nicolás Cuenca:

· OLYMPUS BIOSCAPES digital competition. Honorable mention. 2004.

· FOTCIENCIA. First prize of the jury and the public in the national scientific photography contest organized by the Ministry of Education and Science, CSIC and FECYT 2006.

· RUVID. First prize of the public and second prize of the jury at the Scientific Photography Contest organized by RUVID. Network of Valencian Universities 2007.

· NATIONAL SCIENCE FUNDATION and SCIENCE JOURNAL in the category of scientific photography. 2008.

First Prize on Scientific Photography. SENC Spanish Society of Neuroscience. 2009.

First and fourth prize of scientific photography award. First picture competition. European Vision Research. 2009

First Prize on scientific photography. SEBBM Spanish Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2010.

. First Prize on scientific photography. European Vision Reserach. 2010.

The first picture corresponds to the National Science Foundation and Science Journal Award. The second to the 2010 first prize of the European Research Institute's Vision Research.



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