The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

Koch Institute Image Awards

KI Public Galleries

About the Competition

The Koch Institute Image Awards seek to recognize the extraordinary visuals that are produced through life sciences and biomedical research at MIT. Such images serve as windows into otherwise invisible biological worlds. They exemplify the exchange of ideas between science and engineering – an interplay that is integral to the Koch Institute's approach to cancer research. Simply put, these visuals are beautiful and thought-provoking. The 2021 exhibition will celebrate the work of the Koch Institute community.

Winning images will be exhibited in the large (nearly 8-foot) backlit square and circular displays at the Koch Institute Public Galleries. The images will be prominently visible to passersby on Main Street and visitors to the Koch Institute website. Materials within the Galleries and on the web will engage visitors in the stories, people, and research behind the images.

See previous winners (and runners-up!) at


The 2020 Visions exhibition was installed in March 2020, and will be presented virtually in September. Planning is underway for the 2021 Image Awards exhibition, to be virtually unveiled on Thursday, March 4, 2021 in honor of the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Koch Institute building. Submissions will be accepted until October 26, 2020.


In honor of the Koch Institute building's tenth anniversary year, submissions will only be accepted from Koch Institute laboratories. This includes intramural and extramural labs and the core facilities of the Robert A. Swanson (1969) Biotechnology Center. The competition is open to all KI students, faculty, staff, and affiliates.

Submissions may be any visuals generated through the contributor’s own research, using any number of imaging/visualization technologies. Submissions must connect to MIT's life sciences and biomedical research, with preference given to cancer-relevant projects. High resolution images are required for display in the Public Galleries.

Each contributor may submit up to five visuals. Image release and copyright disclosure forms will be required of all winners; any contributor submitting images whose copyright is not owned by MIT (Note: as a rule, MIT holds copyright on all images taken on MIT equipment, unless otherwise specified by the funder) will need to fill out an image release form granting MIT permission to display and reproduce these images as part of the Koch Institute Image Awards. Although we strongly encourage contributors to submit new images each year, non-winning images from previous years' competitions may be resubmitted once. For this year, re-submissions are only allowed if the work features cancer research.

Enter the Competition

To enter, send your image(s) and the accompanying image information form(s) to Please provide the highest resolution version of your image(s) whenever possible, preferably in uncompressed .tif format (Dropbox/Google Drive links accepted). Do NOT upsample. Images with insufficient resolution will not be presented to the judges for review. Historically speaking, it has been very difficult to produce museum-quality display from images less than 1200 pixels on a side; however, the most successful enlargements have come from images with 2400-3000 or more pixels on a side (8-10 inches at 300 dpi).

Image Selection

Images are judged by a panel representing a wide range of STEAM disciplines and organizations. Over the years judges have included Alissa Ambrose, STAT; Paula Apsell and Dan Hart, WGBH; Leanne Burden Seidel and Paula Nelson, The Boston Globe; various editors from Cell Press; Catherine Draycott and Sabrina Taner, The Wellcome Trust; John Durant, MIT Museum; Carrie Fitzsimmons, ArtScience Labs and Le Laboratorie Cambridge; Andrea Frank, MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology; Felice Frankel, MIT Center for Materials Science and Engineering; Janis Fraser, Fish & Richardson P.C.; James Goodwin, Half Moon LLC; Anne Havinga, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Allison Johnson, Allison Johnson Design; Christopher Ketcham, MIT List Visual Arts Center; Bethany Millard, Phosphorous Productions; Mary Schneider Enriquez, Harvard Art Museums; Fredericka Stevenson, Smithsonian Science Education Center and Smithsonian National Board; as well as previous award-winners and current MIT faculty members and clinical investigators.

We are looking for images that are both visually stunning and scientifically compelling. Given the nature of the 2021 exhibition, images may be pre-screened and not all submissions will necessarily be presented to the full panel for review.


Images from the Koch Institute Image Awards have appeared as part of the Wellcome Image Awards exhibition (now the Wellcome Photography Prize), Cell Picture Show hosted by Cell Press, Nature, the Hall of Human Life at the Museum of Science, Boston, STAT News, Image of the Day hosted by The Scientist magazine, National Geographic, Popular Science, and Spotlight Health as part of the Aspen Ideas Festival hosted by the Aspen Institute. To learn more about collaborative and public display opportunities, contact