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Biocomplexity Institute researchers take Celldance film festival by storm

December 8, 2016

Daniela Cimini and her team in their laboratory at the Biocomplexity Institute.

Daniela Cimini stands amidst her students as they work in the laboratory.
Daniela Cimini and her laboratory are working to understand how cell division affects tumor creation.

The American Society for Cell Biology’s Celldance 2016 Competition has named three finalists in its “Tell Your Own Cell Story” video competition, and Biology Fellow and Associate Professor Daniela Cimini’s laboratory at the Biocomplexity Institute is among them.

Screening of the finalists was Tuesday at the society’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

Hailed by National Institutes of Health head Francis Collins as “bio-action thrillers” and “microscopic blockbusters,” Celldance videos tell the story of cell biology discoveries with gripping video, narration, and music. The Celldance awards are modeled after the famous independent film festival, Sundance.

This year’s theme: “What do your cells do?”

Daniela Cimini, who also holds an associate professorship in the department of biological sciences, and lab members Nicolaas Baudoin, Ellen Garcia, and Alyssa Osimani created “Cell Division: Live & Up Close.”

They are one of three teams requested by the American Society for Cell Biology to create a video in the Celldance competition, and were awarded $1,000 to complete the task.

Using a combination of narration and videos of living cells, Cimini’s team describes the process of cell division and discusses common mistakes cancer cells make when they divide that can contribute to tumor progression. What are the mechanisms underlying cell division errors? What happens when cell division goes wrong? Why do cells fail to avoid such errors? These are questions Cimini is working hard to answer.

“Being asked to make a Celldance video about our work was a great honor,” said Cimini. “We hope our video will help the mission of the society to increase public awareness of how basic cell biology research can help us understand disease.”