Wellcome Image Awards 2016 winners

The winners of the 2016 Wellcome Image Awards were announced at a ceremony at the Science Museum in London last night. For the first time in the awards' 19-year history, an illustration claimed the top prize. Meet this year's 20 winning images.

Credit: Fernán Federici, Wellcome Images

Confocal micrograph of a cross-section through a cluster of maize leaves. Cell nuclei (red/orange) inside individual cells are visible. Plant tissue was stained with Safranin O and Fast Green. The image, which is 0.25mm wide, was created in collaboration with Jim Haseloff.

A meticulously hand-painted watercolour and ink illustration by David Goodsell showing the molecular landscape inside an Ebola virus particle was chosen as the overall winner.

Fergus Walsh, BBC Medical Correspondent and host for the evening, said: "This is a stunning illustration of a deadly pathogen – a cross-section through an Ebola virus particle. The judges felt that this watercolour and ink image elegantly displayed the biological structure of a virus which has caused such devastation in West Africa."

Hear more from David about how he creates these intricate paintings in this short film.

This year also saw the launch of the new Julie Dorrington Award for outstanding photography in a clinical environment. David Bishop's sensitive photograph of a premature baby receiving ultraviolet light therapy to treat jaundice was selected as the first recipient of this new award.

The award honours one of the founders of Wellcome Images clinical collection and celebrates her contribution to Wellcome and to the clinical photography profession. Fergus explained: "Cocooned in an incubator, a tiny premature baby sleeps while receiving ultraviolet phototherapy to combat the threat of jaundice. The whole image is cast in a beautiful blue light – the judges felt it perfectly captured the vulnerability of a newborn, whilst keeping a respectful and discreet distance from the subject."

The overall winner and Julie Dorrington winner fought off stiff competition from 1,500 other images submitted to Wellcome Images in the past year. 

Alfred Anwander's mesmerising image used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based tractography to reveal pathways of nerve fibres inside a living person's brain.

Last year's overall winner Michael Frank returned this year to collect an award for his photograph which shows the structure of a preserved heart from an adult cow making it appear almost sculptural.

Have you ever considered that using 'black henna' could put your health at risk? Nicola Kelley's clinical photograph documents the early stage of a young girl's allergic reaction to the black chemical dye (PPD) used in a henna tattoo.

Peter Maloca's 3D image inside blood vessels in the back of the eye looks like a maze of tunnels underground. It was created using information from a 3D optical coherence tomography scan which works in a similar way to ultrasound but uses laser light instead of sound waves to produce cross-sectional images.

What do you see when you look at this image? A cityscape at night, a network of rivers or a distant view into space perhaps? Kim Baxter's clinical photograph shows a different view of blood vessels in the eye.

The bright colours in Mark Smith's photomacrograph of scales on a Madagascan sunset moth are in fact more of an optical illusion as they hardly contain any colour pigment. The apparent colours in this moth come from light bouncing off the curved scales at different angles.

The cryogenic scanning electron micrograph by Sílvia Ferreira, Cristina Lopo and Eileen Gentleman shows a single stem cell taken from bone marrow inside the hip bone of a person.

This circular pattern is a series of images taken by Paula Alexandre over nine hours, showing a stem cell dividing into two in the brain of a zebrafish embryo before it hatches.

Thermal imaging accurately measures changing patterns of heat. Matthew Clavey's image shows how a healthy hand warms faster after exposure to cold than the hand from a person with Raynaud's disease.

The liver is one of the few tissues in the body that has the ability to regenerate itself. Chelsea Fortin, Kelly Stevens and Sangeeta Bhatia are trying to harness that ability in the hope that one day small implants could be used to repair livers damaged by liver disease, cirrhosis or cancer.

The high-level containment unit at the Royal Free hospital in London is something we all hope never to experience. Glimpse inside it with David Bishop's haunting photograph of this restricted area.

Can you detect a stroke before it strikes? Nicholas Evans is investigating exactly that, by combining two types of medical scan to identify potential danger zones in blood vessels before they burst in order to treat them.

The second illustration to win an award this year is the digital artwork by Maria Voigt. Created from experimentally obtained scientific data, this image reveals the 3D structure of a transport molecule found inside cells.

King's College London picked up their second award for the night with a transmission electron micrograph by Izzat Suffian, Kuo-Ching Mei, Houmam Kafa and Khuloud Al-Jamal. Two rod-shaped bacteria sit on a sheet of graphene which is only one carbon atom thick.

This super-resolution micrograph reveals three parasites which cause the disease Toxoplasmosis. Taken by Leandro Lemgruber, the level of detail visible inside these parasites was achieved using light microscopy down to a level that was thought impossible for many years.

Looking inside a cluster of plant leaves uncovers a complex, intricate structure, captured so beautifully by Fernán Federici.

Our bone structure changes as we develop in the womb and even as we grow in the first few years of life. Using micro-computed tomography, Frank Acquaah was able to virtually cut out sections of bone from the skeletal remains of children from the 19th century, without damaging the precious remains.

Get up close to these images for yourself and visit one of the 15 exhibitions now open across the UK, Europe and Africa. See our website for a full list of venues and for more information about the images and the stories behind them.

Do you agree with the judges? Vote for your favourite for your chance to win a photographic print.

Hear more from our judges as they discuss the winning images in this short film.