Stunning photographic exhibition, a window on medical research

Next public viewing of the gallery – none schedule, but check back again soon for future dates!

Stem Cell Stories is a stunning touring image exhibition jointly created in late 2013 by the ASSCR and Questacon – the Australian National Science and Technology Centre.

The exhibition aims to celebrate the inherent beauty of regenerative medicine research while also stimulating community conversation around stem cells and emerging stem cell therapies. To do so, the exhibition juxtaposes beautiful colour stem cell images with portraits of patients looking to stem cell research for new treatments. The beautiful and thought provoking images contained within the exhibition were provided by scientists across Australia and New Zealand.

Some of the winning images of the  Small Objects, Big Impact 2013 ASSCR and Questacon Regenerative Medicine Image Competition and the stories behind them can be viewed by clicking on the images below.


The exhibition has been seen by over 1 million people, including being shown at:

– Questacon (Canberra, 2013-15)

– Royal Institute of Australia (RiAus, Adelaide, 2014)

– Scitech (Perth, 2015)

– Sydney Science Festival (2017)

– ISSCR International Conference Community Forum (18 June 2018), Federation Square, Melbourne

-Public Forum: Stem Cell Research: Now and in the Future (2018), Federation Square, Melbourne


The captivating nature of Stem Cell Stories has gathered significant media interest, including the closing credits of the ABC 7:30 Report in Adelaide and an 8-page feature spread in the December 2014 issue of Cosmos magazine.

The exhibition of 24 large-format prints was commissioned to stimulate public thought on the potential for stem cell treatments to repair damaged and diseased cells in the body, says Dr Michael O’Connor from the UWS School of Medicine.

“There was a real need to engage with the community in a deeper and more meaningful way, on discussions around stem cell research and regenerative medicine,” says Dr O’Connor, who established the Stem Cell Stories exhibition as Vice President of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research (ASSCR).

“Regenerative medicine has the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of people with a wide range of conditions, and this has been reflected in the diversity of images on display.”

The exhibition features stunning images of muscle fibres, neurons, stem cells, skins cells and even a regenerated eye lens.

Portraits in the exhibition include those of Ashley a 26-year old woman with severe gastroparesis, a digestive disorder which literally means ‘paralysed stomach’; and Robert Pask an advocate for people living with disability and chronic illness.

The images were selected from over 50 entries submitted by researchers and the general public across Australasia in an ASSCR competition – judged by three experts with extensive backgrounds in the arts, sciences, and patient advocacy: Oron Catts (SymbioticA), Mari Velonaki (National Institute of Experimental Arts, NSW), and Trish Hansen (Arts SA).

Dr O’Connor says complementing the exhibition are specially produced information panels, brochures and web pages, which provide easy to read information on stem cell research.

“It is essential people have accurate and easy to read information on stem cell research to help them understand the scientific research underway and inform their choices on stem cell procedures already available,” he says.


What is a Stem Cell?

  • Stem cells are immature cells that can divide and make copies of themselves (‘self-renewal’).
  • Stem cells can produce the mature cell types needed by the body (‘differentiation’).
  • Tissue-specific (‘adult’) stem cells in your body can only make related cell types (e.g. blood stem cells make blood cells).
  • Pluripotent (‘reprogrammed’ or ‘embryonic’) stem cells grown in the laboratory can make all cell types in the body.


What are Stem Cell Treatments?

It is hoped stem cells, and the cells they make, may eventually provide new treatments to help repair or replace damaged and diseased cells in the body.