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Beauty and the Brain
Helen Kaufmann | Condesa Drive

Thomas Derrick, DMF Talks guest speaker. Photo Bill Morris.

Click on photo to enlarge.

On November 9, local resident Thomas Deerinck blended art and science in a DMF Talks presentation about his work as a research scientist at the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR) and the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego.

Deerinck wowed the Powerhouse audience with stunning photographs of biological specimens as seen through the lenses of a variety of state-of-the-art microscopes—ranging from relatively small light microscopes to much larger high-voltage electron equipment. His examples demonstrated how brightly hued stains used to identify molecular structure result in images that are not only invaluable in the advancement of neuroscience, but also beautiful and inspirational to look at. In fact, his photographs have won numerous awards, including first place in the prestigious Nikon Small World and Olympus BioScapes competitions, and have been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, Time, and various scientific journals. Several of Deerinck’s photographs are currently on display at the Medical Education and Telemedicine building on the UCSD campus.

As he presented each image, Deerinck provided a scientific overview and explained that his research involves work with both “small brains” and “big brains.” The small brains are those of fruit flies, bees, and mice, which when studied under a microscope provide valuable scientific information. The big brains refer to neuroscience’s brightest minds, many of which are at UCSD and nearby research institutes. Deerinck, who collaborated with Nobel Laureate Roger Tsien at UCSD, showed examples of how green fluorescent proteins are used to localize proteins and macromolecules in the cell. He also shared a video showing how advances in electron microscopy have enabled the scanning of multiple layers of brain tissue to produce images that can be pieced together into three-dimensional brain maps.

Deerinck’s presentation, entitled “Beauty and the Brain: Blending Art and Science,” was part DMF Talks, the Del Mar Foundation’s unique version of TED Talks. The goal of DMF Talks is to entertain, inspire, and inform the Del Mar community through a series of free presentations by locally based creative, intellectual and scientific leaders.



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