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Featured Basic Sciences Research Images

The following images have been generated by students, postdocs, staff, or faculty affiliated with Basic Sciences. Each one is the product of hard work, both technical and creative, and has been selected as the banner image for our newsletter, Basically Speaking. If you are interested in having your image featured in our newsletter and in this gallery, please submit it here.

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Chazin Lab

2D NMR plot of wild-type calmodulin (black) and a mutant (E104K, red). Calmodulin is a calcium-binding messenger protein that is critical for Ca2+ signaling, and the E104K mutation causes a dysfunction in calcium binding. Although most mutations are embryonic lethal, this particular mutant was identified in a little girl who had recurrent cardiac arrests caused by arrhythmia. This NMR plot was generated by Noel Maxwell, a former research assistant in the lab of Walter Chazin (Biochemistry). View larger image.

To be featured in the January 2020 issue of Basically Speaking.


Jerod Denton


Eric Figueroa, from the lab of Jerod Denton, studies VRAC, an ion channel that conducts Cl and organic osmolytes out of cells to draw water out. In the lab, he exposes cells to a hypotonic solution to cause swelling, using a pipet to create a gradient. When swelling, the cell membrane detaches from the cytoskeleton, creating blebs (black arrow).  View larger image.

Featured in the December 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.


Kristin Peterson – Vanderbilt Center for Bone Biology

Some cancers metastasize specifically to the bone, and Kristin Petersen, a graduate student in Vanderbilt’s Center for Bone Biology, studies one such cancer: oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). OSCC affects the cells that line the lips and the inside of the mouth and can invade the bones of the mandible. The image shows some cetuximab-resistant OSCC cells, which are more elongated and are more prone to migrating than non-cancer cells. The cells are stained in red (lipophilic dye), and their nuclei in blue (DAPI). View larger image.

Featured in the November 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.


Chris Hofmann – Emeson Lab

Chris Hofmann, a grad student in the lab of Ron Emeson, studies a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) called mGlu4. This image shows a calcium-sensing assay that’s used to indirectly measure the activity of mGlu4. Each spot on this assay turns darker or lighter depending on the level of activity of the GPCR in each spot. When measured over time, Hofmann can see the intensity of the light increase and decrease. He is currently exploring how point mutations affect mGlu4’s function. View larger image.

Featured in the October 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.


Romell Gletten – Schey Lab

The stain is a wheat germ agglutinin-Alexa 647 stain of bovine lens posterior suture region. The region also includes lens fiber cell tips and the lens capsule (the solid red perimeter at the top of the image).

Romell Gletten is a graduate student in the Kevin Schey lab. He studies the mechanisms that mediate the cellular trafficking of critical proteins such as the aquaporins in lens fiber cells. This includes the investigation of these mechanisms under both normal physiology and cataractogenesis, in addition to relevant modulatory post-translational modifications. Romell primarily employs biochemical techniques, including mass spectrometry-based proteomics, and molecular biological methods to address this research focus in both humans and animal models. View larger image.

Featured in the September 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.


Alexandria Oviatt – Osheroff Lab

Alexandria Oviatt, a graduate student in the lab of Neil Osheroff, works with bacterial topoisomerases, enzymes that regulate supercoiling and that can remove knots and tangles from DNA. This image is a 2D gel that she generated after testing the ability of a Staphylococcus aureusgyrase (a type II topoisomerase that can introduce negative supercoils) to relax DNA. DNA can be electrophoresed on agarose gels to discern its supercoiling state, but positively and negatively supercoiled DNA run at similar speeds. To get around this problem, Oviatt runs her gels in two directions, which helps separate the different DNA species. This 2D gel shows a time course in which the gyrase relaxed positively supercoiled DNA (top left) before introducing negative supercoils (bottom right). Image courtesy of Alexandria Oviatt and Elizabeth Gibson.  View larger image.

Featured in the August 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.

Caroline Cencer – Tyska Lab

There is more to this artwork than meets the eye: this kaleidoscopic image is actually a single immunofluorescence slide that has been rotated three times about a corner. The artist and researcher, graduate student Caroline Cencer (lab of Matt Tyska), uses enterocytes to study the maturation of the intestinal brush border. In this image, the microvilli (magenta) are coming out of the screen toward the viewer.  View larger image.

Featured in the July 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.

Caroline Roe & Justine Sinnaeve – Ihrie Lab

Image courtesy of Caroline Roe and Justine Sinnaeve.

This image shows a glioblastoma tumor that was frozen, sectioned, and stained with metal-tagged antibodies; 7 (out of more than 30) markers are shown in this particular visualization. This image is exemplary of a pilot project between the labs of Rebecca Ihrie and Jonathan Irish to bring imaging mass cytometry (IMC) to Vanderbilt. IMC allows researchers to identify 30-35 different markers to get a nuanced understanding of the types of cells that are present in a single sample, like with mass cytometry, except that IMC allows them to discern structural and spatial relationships between cell subsets. Caroline Roe is a program manager in the Irish lab and Justine Sinnaeve is a graduate student in the Ihrie lab.  View larger image.

Featured in the June 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.

Kensei Taguchi – Brooks Lab

Autophagosomes in kidney tissue using an RFP-GFP-LC3 reporter mouse. Shown in super-resolution structured illumination microscopy (SIM). Tissue sections were stained for GFP (green), RFP (red), KIM-1 (magenta), and DAPI (blue).  View larger image.

Featured in the May 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.



Caitlin Sprowls – Bordenstein Lab

Histological sections of California sea lion whiskers, trichrome stained and then color manipulated in photoshop. (Image courtesy of ArtLab.)  View larger image.

Featured in the April 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.







Amrita Pathak – Carter Lab

Primary sympathetic neurons cultured in microfluidic devices. Cells are stained with neuronal marker TUJ1 (green) and nuclei are labeled with DAPI (blue). Submitted by Amrita Pathak, Research Instructor in the lab of Bruce Carter. (Image courtesy of ArtLab.)  View larger image.

Featured in the March 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.









Nilay Taneja – Burnette Lab

Embryonic Stem Cell Colony
Shown is a colony of human embryonic stem cells showing the actin cytoskeleton (magenta), myosin motors (cyan) and DNA (yellow). Embryonic stem cells, that give rise to all tissues in the body, hold great potential in designing cell-based therapies for multiple diseases. Studying the cytoskeleton of these cells helps us understand how they respond to their mechanical environment and how that affects their ability to both retain their identity or differentiate into specific cell types. Technique used- Confocal microscopy, large image stitching.  View larger image.

Featured in the February 2019 issue of Basically Speaking.