The Lennart Nilsson Award
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. It's 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. Award recipients are people who work in the spirit of Lennart Nilsson, revealing science to the world in beautiful, unique and powerful ways.
About Lennart Nilsson
Born in Strängas, Sweden, on August 24, 1922, Lennart Nilsson began his career as a freelance photojournalist. His work spans more than seven decades, beginning in the early 1940s when modern photojournalism made its breakthrough in Sweden.
His early photographic essays, including A Midwife in Lapland (1945), Polar Bear Hunting in Spitzbergen (1947), Congo (1948) and Sweden in Profile (1954) gained international attention through publication in leading photojournalism magazines such as Life, Picture Post and Illustrated.
In the 1950s, Nilsson began experimenting with new photographic techniques including macro- and microphotography, which led to the books, Ants (Myror) and Life in the Sea (Liv i hav).
In the 1960s, the use of specially designed, ultra-slim endoscopes made it possible for Nilsson to capture on film the inner workings of blood vessels and various cavities of the human body. The book A Child is Born (Ett barn blir till) first published in 1965 is undoubtedly Nilsson’s most famous work.
In the 1970s, Nilsson began to use the scanning electron microscope to capture images of the inner workings of the human body. This shift in the focus of his work gave Nilsson the opportunity to work on the premises of Karolinska Institute.
What remains remarkable is the combination of his unending patience to fully explore his subjects, combined with a journalist’s eye, artist’s sense of form and colour, and technician’s inventive skills to maximize available light and capture spectacular images.
In 1976 Lennart Nilsson was awarded an honorary doctorate at Karolinska Institutet. In 2009 he was given the title Professor’s name by the Swedish Government and in 2012 he was awarded the Karolinska Institutet Jubilee Medal (Gold class) for his long-standing and groundbreaking contributions to the development and innovative advancement of medical photography.
Lennart Nilsson passed away in January 2017.
Prize winner 2017 - Xiaowei Zhuang
Xiaowei Zhuang is the David B. Arnold Professor of Science at Harvard University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. In 2006, she pioneered a method that would go on to revolutionize the world of fluorescence microscopy.
She developed a single-molecule-based super-resolution light microscopy method called “Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy” or STORM. It overcame the diffraction limit and extended the spatial resolution of light microscopy by an order of magnitude to a few tens of nanometers.
The resolution of STORM was further extended by her laboratory to a few nanometers, nearly 100 times higher than conventional diffraction-limited light microscopy. Xiaowei Zhuang has since been using STORM to illuminate the beautiful and small world of biology in the most unexpected ways
Previous prize winners
Prize winner 2016 - Alexey Amunts
Alexey Amunts, head of the Swedish cryo-EM laboratory at SciLifeLab and researcher in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Stockholm University, is the recipient of the 2016 Lennart Nilsson Award for his pioneering work in the ongoing “Resolution Revolution”, using cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) to visualize structures of individual proteins.
Cryo-EM led Alexey Amunts and his team to the first visualizations of a protein complex that regulates a cell’s energy budget, the mitoribosome, with extremely high resolution – at the atomic scale.
The method uses a highly focused electron beam to shoot electrons at biological samples, for example mitoribosomes, frozen in liquid nitrogen, at about –200°C. Hundreds of thousands of pictures of a single mitoribosome are combined with the help of computational analysis, and the final result is an extremely detailed three-dimensional model of the original biological structure.
2015 - Katrin Willig
Dr. Katrin Willig, junior research group leader at the Center for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CNMPB) with affiliation at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, Germany, is the recipient of the Lennart Nilsson Award 2015 for her groundbreaking contribution to the super-resolution microscopy of living cells.
2014 - Timothy Behrens
Timothy Behrens, Professor of Computational Neuroscience at the University of Oxford is awarded the 2014 Lennart Nilsson Prize for crucial efforts for the advancement of diffusion MRI, a technique for creating high resolution images of the architecture of the human brain.
2012 - Hans Blom
The 2012 Lennart Nilsson Award - this year a stipend - is awarded to Hans Blom, associate professor of biological physics at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH and facility manager at the Science for Life Laboratory, Stockholm, to undertake a field trip to Harvard University to study and evaluate the microscopy techniques nanoSIMS and STORM.
2011- Nancy Kedersha
The 2011 Lennart Nilsson Award is awarded to American biologist Nancy Kedersha for her colour pictures showing the inner life of a cell.
2010 - Kenneth Libbrecht
The 2010 Lennart Nilsson Award is awarded to the American physicist Kenneth Libbrecht for his images of snowflakes - images that open our eyes to the beauty of nature.
2009 - Carolyn Porco and Babak A. Tafreshi
The 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award is awarded to American planetary scientist Carolyn Porco and Iranian photographer and science journalist Babak A. Tafreshi for their photographic work, which - each from its own perspective - recalls mankind's place in the universe.
2008 - Anders Persson
The 2008 Lennart Nilsson Award is awarded to Swedish physician Anders Persson, MD, PhD, for his innovative techniques for capturing 3-D images inside the human body. These new techniques have proven particularly useful for post-mortem imaging, providing invaluable information for forensic investigation.
Nominate candidates for the Lennart Nilsson Award 2018
The Board of Research at Karolinska Institutet hereby invites nominations to the Lennart Nilsson Award 2018.
The nominees should fulfil the following criteria:
- Work in the spirit of Lennart Nilsson
- Make the invisible visible
- Reveal sciences to the world in beautiful, unique and powerful ways
- Visualize a scientific break through
- Image reality in a surprising way
You are invited to nominate candidates to the Lennart Nilsson Award. It's main aim is to promote education, training and research within the medical, biological and engineering sciences through the use of images. Candidates should be active mainly in the Life Sciences and use pictorial representation as an explanatory medium. Users of animation technology are also eligible.
The nomination form should be filled out and sent in together with the candidate’s CV, bibliography, articles, technical descriptions and pictorial material. Up to three letters with references and comments from experts may be included. Please attach the material as one PDF-file if possible and send to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Tuesday April 24 2018.