Princes Risborough researcher wins inaugural national photography competition

A researcher from Princes Risborough triumphed at a brand new national photography competition launched by the Alzheimer’s Society.
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Charlie Arber’s winning effort claimed the ‘dementia in a dish’ prize and captured some of his work investigating the devastating condition.

The national charity funded a new contest, challenging researchers to showcase their vital work through creative images and video.

Charlie who is a senior research fellow at University College London won with a photo called, Bed of Rosettes.

Charlie's winning photoCharlie's winning photo
Charlie's winning photo

The photo shows his work creating brain cells, from stem cells of people living with dementia.

It is a condition which nearly 8,000 people are estimated to be living with in Buckinghamshire.

Charlie’s winning image shows the halfway stage of stem cells turning into brain cells.

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Charlie ArberCharlie Arber
Charlie Arber

It was captured using an ultra-strong camera which magnified cells 40 times. The camera worth £750,000, takes hundreds of pictures a minute and allows researchers to detect small changes in brain cells of people with dementia, compared to people without the disease.

Charlie said: “I am delighted and surprised to win the award and receive the trophy. We are looking to really understand and study Alzheimer’s disease in a dish for the first time. Up until now, we could not work with brain cells because we cannot take a biopsy of a person’s brain in case we damage it.”

Charlie added: “The brain cells we look at under the microscope have the same genes as their donor, so it allows us to investigate the consequence of gene changes that lead to inherited forms of dementia. We want to better understand how dementia develops.

“Alzheimer’s Society funding has allowed me to develop my work using stem cells to understand how dementia starts and I’m thrilled to win the first Spotlight on Dementia competition. Research offers hope across dementia diagnosis, treatment and care. I hope this competition helps bring more funding opportunities and new people to the dementia research community.”

The judging panel which included Tom Whipple, science editor at The Times, and people affected by dementia, chose Charlie’s photo because they felt it added colour to an important area of dementia research – trying to understand how dementia starts and how we can treat it.