Irish scientist’s work to be shown in New York’s Times Square

12 Mar 2014

An Irish scientist will light up Times Square New York next month with his striking image of a lung cancer cell surrounded by a green glow after he won a competition to highlight the beauty of cells.

The almost alien-like green image was taken by Dr Martin Barr, clinical scientist and adjunct assistant professor at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Trinity College Dublin and St James’s Hospital.

Dr Barr’s image, which was taken as part of his ongoing research to better understand and fight resistance to lung cancer treatments, shows in minute detail a lung cancer cell from one of the most common forms of lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer, otherwise known as NSCLC.

The cell measures just one thousandth of a millimetre, similar in width to a cotton fibre, and is shown in a low-oxygen environment known as hypoxia.

The aim of Dr Barr’s research is to target cellular processes triggered by this hypoxia in order to make tumours more susceptible to chemotherapy.

Dr Barr was one of three winners of the GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ 2013 Cell Imaging Competition who will now have his work seen by millions of New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Speaking about the honour, Dr Barr said: “To see my winning image displayed on the large high-definition screens in Times Square in New York is a unique, once-in-a-life time opportunity and something I would never have imagined in my career as a cancer research scientist.

“The projection of my image in this major international hot-spot will hopefully bring further awareness of lung cancer to the general public.”

Lung cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Ireland and is the commonest cause of cancer death in both sexes, where it accounts for 20pc of all cancer deaths.

In 2013 there were 2,165 new cases of lung cancer in men and women in Ireland with incidence rates for women in Ireland 55pc higher than the EU average.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic