By Bio-IT World staff
May 21, 2012 | The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is planning a “high-tech, high-intensity” museum exhibition next year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the official completion of the Human Genome Project.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is collaborating with the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the NIH to create the exhibition.
The Life Technologies Foundation has pledged $3 million in funding for the exhibition, and will be joined with funds totaling at least $500,000 from the Foundation for the NIH; the Brin Wojcicki Foundation (Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki); Celgene Corp.; Pacific Biosciences; Genentech; New England Biolabs; and PacBio president and CEO Mike Hunkapiller and his wife.
“We want to help the public see how the Human Genome Project has given birth to a modern era of genomics, expanding our knowledge of the human body in health and disease, and our understanding of biodiversity in the natural world. What better place to explore genomics than the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where a personal introduction to the human genome will illustrate the likely impact of genomics on our future?” said NHGRI Director Eric Green.
"The Human Genome Project has empowered not just a revolution in medicine, but a revolution in biotechnology, evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation, all of which are central to Smithsonian research," said NMNH Director Cristián Samper. "We are proud to join the National Institutes of Health in celebrating this landmark scientific event with an exciting, state-of-the-art exhibition and dynamic educational experiences.”
The Human Genome Project was officially declared complete in April 2003 in a press release issued by NHGRI, even though work continues to finish sequencing several intractable, highly repetitive regions of the genome. The timing coincided with the 50th anniversary of the publication of Crick and Watson’s classic paper describing the double helix in Nature. As such, the exhibition will also mark the 60th anniversary of that discovery in 1953.
The exhibit -- approximately 2,500-square-feett -- will be suited in Hall 23 at NIMH. This hall typically houses temporary exhibitions, but was deemed an appropriate location as humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. After 12 months or more in Washington D.C., the exhibition will travel to venues across the U.S. and abroad.
Gregory Lucier, chairman and CEO of Life Technologies, said that the Life Technologies Foundation became the lead sponsor in order to educate visitors to the exhibition on the powerful information that can be unlocked within the genome “and the impact it will have in medicine and their daily lives."
The Smithsonian exhibition will be organized around several themes, including the genome and you, the natural world, health, and humanity. The museum, which attracts some 7 million annual visitors, will provide visitors with new ways to view themselves and appreciate the diversity of life on earth. Visitors will also learn how scientists establish links between genes and diseases and traits, as well as the latest advances in genomic medicine, prenatal diagnosis and genomically guided drug therapy. The exhibition will attempt to dispel common misconceptions about genetics and genomics, and challenge visitors to think more deeply about the complex ethical, legal, social and environmental issues raised by advances in genomics.