CIRM Announces Winners of the 2008 Image Contest

San Francisco, Calif., February 18, 2009 – The twelve winning images from the first California Institute for Regenerative Medicine stem cell photo contest range from a whirling galaxy of developing nerve cells to a moonscape of retinal pigment epithelial cells, both derived from human embryonic stem cells.


Other images show a lightning bolt of a motor neuron axon shooting through a sky of blue and green nerve cells, a sunburst ball of neural progenitor cells and paisley colonies of human embryonic stem cells. Together, this collection of images from CIRM-funded researchers shows the diversity and the beauty of stem cell research.

“When scientists read about research project that has taken a creative route to arrive at an enlightening finding, it is not unusual for them to exalt it as ‘a beautiful piece of science,'” said Alan Trouson, CIRM president. “With these images we show clearly that such exaltations can have two meanings.”

Winners of the contest received $100 and a professional enlargement of their entry.

The contest winners join a growing collection of stem cell images on the CIRM Flickr site: Images on the site include embryonic stem cell lines created by CIRM grantees and tissues derived from those cells. These more mature cell types, such as cells of the nervous system, eye, liver or heart, are being used to study the origin of diseases and learn how to reverse the effects of those disorders.

Don Gibbons, chief communications officer, said the collection of images is part of an ongoing effort to keep Californians informed about the agency’s work. The oeffort includes a stem cell basics primer about stem cell research (, summaries of CIRM-funded research findings ( and videos about the basics of stem cell research and CIRM news at tagency’s YouTube site:

“Together, these materials make it easier for Californians to stay abreast of stem cell developments in the state,” Gibbons said.

The image contest winners include:

  • Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Bruce Conklin, MD, the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Brian Cummings, PhD, University of California, Irvine
  • Guoping Fan, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Susan Fisher, PhD, University of California, San Francisco (two images)
  • Fred H. Gage, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Anirvan Ghosh, PhD, University of California, San Diego
  • David Hinton, MD, University of Southern California
  • Paul Knoepfler, PhD, University of California, Davis
  • Martin Pera, PhD, University of Southern California
  • Prue Talbot, PhD, University of California, Riverside

Contact for high-resolution images for printing.

About CIRM: The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was established in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research opportunities. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 279 research and facility grants totaling more than $693 million, making CIRM the largest source of funding for human stem cell research in the world. For more information, please visit

Contact: Don Gibbons
415-740-5855 (mobile)