“A picture is worth a thousand words” and some of the most complex and exciting science can be better communicated to people without specialised scientific training through art.

Imagining the Brain started in 2005 when the McMahon laboratory within the Neurobiology Division of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology decided to invite a young artist to come into the lab over the summer holiday to aid them in communicating to a wider audience through art. In order to find the right person, there was a competition in which Sixth Form artists were asked to depict either the brain as an organ controlling the body and housing the mind, or a complex process involved in the transmission of signals from one nerve cell to another.

The project was hugely successful and was repeated annually for ten years with different topics each year. The work has been used to illustrate conference materials, slides for use in scientific and science communication talks and won the inaugural MRC CEO award for public engagement.

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