Jan Huisken

Jan Huisken awarded 2020 Lennart Nilsson Award for developments in light-sheet microscopy

Jan Huisken, medical engineering investigator at the Morgridge Institute for Research, has been awarded the 2020 Lennart Nilsson Award for outstanding achievements in biological imaging.

The award, granted by Sweden’s Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation, recognizes Huisken’s pioneering work in light-sheet microscopy, which has revolutionized live imaging in biology.

“(Huisken’s) ingenious efforts have enabled many new scientific breakthroughs and have permitted us to make observations of life that were previously not possible to imagine,” according to the foundation’s announcement. “His images and movies of living organisms are breathtaking, both in their scientific content and their artistic qualities.”

Jan Huisken
Jan Huisken

The Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation was established in 1998 in recognition of the world-renowned Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson and his extraordinary body of work. The main aim is to promote education, training, and research within the medical, biological and engineering sciences through the use of images. This is achieved through the Lennart Nilsson Award, an international award bestowed annually upon an individual in recognition of outstanding contributions within the realm of scientific photography.

Light-sheet microscopy, also called SPIM (selective plane illumination microscopy), illuminates a sample with a thin sheet of light. The light-sheet can be swept rapidly through the sample, and is used to generate a three-dimensional image with high resolution. A distinct advantage with this technique is that low light levels are used, which makes it possible to image living organisms during long time periods.

The resulting three-dimensional images are often breathtaking in both beauty and scientific relevance, particularly when coupled with long time lapse imaging, and have led to stunning results in developmental biology during the past decade.

With a background in optics and laser physics, Huisken has contributed to the development of light-sheet microscopy techniques with several innovative experimental setups that have generated a major impact on the life sciences. Light-sheet microscopy is today established as a central microscopy technique for many researchers worldwide and is used in a broad range of applications, in particular within developmental and plant biology.