Versiti Blood Research Institute Articles
Blood Research Institute Investigator Wins Journal Cover Photo Contest
Each year, Platelets, a leading journal on platelet biology, encourages scientists to submit photos for an annual cover contest. Blood Research Institute Investigator Hervé Falet, PhD, won the contest with an image titled “Platelet Fireworks,” which appeared on the cover of Platelets Vol. 30.
Dr. Falet’s research focuses on platelet production and function. When you cut yourself, your platelets activate and begin to take shape, morphing from a disc to a spider-like structure. This helps your blood to clot and stop bleeding. Deficient platelet production, due to genetic causes, secondary to cancer therapy, or from unknown etiology, poses significant risks of mortality, mostly due to bleeding.
This particular image depicts platelets spreading on an artificial fibrinogen-coated surface, demonstrating what would happen if someone cut themselves. The amount of blood is tiny; one drop of blood typically yields millions of platelets, but this image shows about 50. To the untrained eye, it looks like fireworks in a night sky, but to an expert like Dr. Falet, something appears abnormal.
Each color is a different protein that can be found in or on the surface of platelets:
- Green: filamentous actin, the most abundant protein in platelets and the major constituent of the platelet cytoskeleton.
- Red: tubulin, another constituent of the platelet cytoskeleton, polymers of which form a marginal ring in resting platelets, contributing to their distinctive discoid shape.
- Blue: the von Willebrand factor receptor, GPIbα, which plays a critical role in platelet adhesion at arterial shear rates.
The Versiti Blood Research Institute provides a wealth of imaging resources to its investigators. But for now, Dr. Falet is pleased that his image - which he views as a work of art - is being recognized. “It’s interesting to me that, in something so small as platelets, you can see the patterns that you see in the sky - the art of it,” he says.
About the expert: Herve Falet, PhD, is an investigator at the Versiti Blood Research Institute and assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy at the Medical College of Wisconsin.