Coming Attractions—Celldance Studios Announce New Microscopic Blockbuster Productions


The syncytial filamentous fungus Ashbya is seen in this still image from one of the 2014 Celldance winners, Amy Gladfelter’s Companions in Discovery.

Celldance Studios, aka ASCB’s Public Information Committee (PIC), has unveiled its list of three Celldance 2016 “Tell Your Own Cell Story” productions that will premiere at ASCB 2016 in San Francisco this December ( The three short (three- to four-minute) videos will feature eye-popping live cell imaging framed in accessible narratives that will dazzle both biologists and the public. The three ASCB member labs chosen are are those of Daniela Cimini, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Matthieu Piel, Institut Curie; and Roberto Weigert, National Cancer Institute, NIH.

Each of the three labs will receive a $1,000 unrestricted production grant from ASCB plus full postproduction services including final editing, a legal musical score, credits, titles, and promotion, all at ASCB expense. Each video-making lab has an assigned PIC member/producer to act as a go-between and advisor for the video-makers. In this role, Claire Walczak will work with the Cimini lab, Heidi Hehnly-Chang with the Piel group, and Elisa Konieczko with the Weigert lab.

Here is what the three video-making labs are planning:

    • Many people remember diagrams of cell division from their high school biology class, according to Cimini, but her video will update that stale, static memory using the latest 21st century live cell imaging to reveal the dynamic, colorful, and essential process of mitosis.
    • The Weigert video will take viewers into the cell with subcellular intravital microscopy, a technology that allows them to tackle the audacious challenge of making visible what’s going on at the cellular level in living multicellular animals. The Weigert lab has succeeded in filming the critical cellular process of membrane trafficking in live mice and rats, revealing the strange beauty behind this nuts and bolts process of cellular life.
    • The Piel group has a heroic tale to tell. Through advanced microscopic imaging technology, they will follow the epic journey of a dendritic cell through twisting mazes and tight quarters to the lymph nodes, where it dies, releasing a critical signal alerting the body’s immune system to danger. Piel likens the dendritic cell’s task to the Ancient Greek warrior who ran from the battlefield at Marathon to Athens where he gasped the news of victory and collapsed dead. It will be an epic story on a microscopic scale, Piel promises.

This is the third year of Celldance Studio’s “Tell Your Own Cell Story” videos where ASCB member labs are given resources and backup support to bring their big discoveries to the little screen in more than living color. The 2014 and 2015 Celldance videos can be seen at

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