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Winners of the Medical Research Foundation's second Festive Science Image Competition, run in partnership with the Medical Research Council (MRC), have been announced today.

This annual competition invites Foundation and MRC-funded researchers, staff, and students to produce a science image with direct relevance to medical research, combined with a festive theme. The competition's judges, who work in science, medical research, communications, and public engagement, were looking for eye-catching, high-quality images, along with a clear explanation for non-scientific audiences.

Three winners were selected, with the Department of Oncology's Nathalie Lovgren and Iain Tullis winning third place for their entry 'Starry Winter Night'. 

"Radiotherapy is one of the main methods used to treat cancer,” say Nathalie and Iain. “FLASH radiotherapy is an emerging technique offering the same damage to tumours as standard radiotherapy, whilst potentially reducing side effects.

"A tree of lead, attached to a water flask, were both exposed to FLASH radiation,” Nathalie and Iain explain. “The dazzling image resembles the starry nights bringing us light during the cold winter months. The lead blocks most of the radiation, and the colour specs are due to the radiation interacting with the camera sensor. The blue glow is Cherenkov radiation, which appears when charged particles move faster in water than light itself."

The first-place image, by Michaela Raab, PhD student at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, University of Edinburgh, will feature on the Medical Research Foundation and MRC's joint Season's Greetings card for 2023. The cards can be ordered online, with a suggested donation to the Foundation.

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