NIH News

NHGRI collaborates with Smithsonian to produce new genome exhibit

Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian
Bethesda, Md., Mon., May 21, 2012 — To celebrate the 10th anniversary of researchers producing the first complete human genome sequence — the genetic blueprint of the human body — the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., will open a high-tech, high-intensity exhibition in 2013. The exhibition will result from a collaboration of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health.

The Life Technologies Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Life Technologies Corp. of Carlsbad, Calif., has pledged $3 million to fund the exhibition. Additionally, more than $500,000 has been raised through the Foundation for The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation of Palo Alto, Calif.; Celgene Corporation of Summit, N.J.; Pacific Biosciences of Menlo Park, Calif., and Pac Bio president and chief executive officer Mike Hunkapiller, Ph.D., and his wife Beth; New England Biolabs of Ipswich, Mass.; and Genentech, Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif.

"The completed sequence of the human genome gave us the first glimpse of the massive instruction book that orchestrates all the complexities of human biology," said NHGRI Director Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D. "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?"

The Human Genome Project was launched in 1990, with support from the U.S. government and a number of international institutions. The goal was to lay a foundation to better understand the genetic contributions to health and disease. To help reach this goal, scientists sequenced the human genome, as well as the genomes of other organisms. These explorations provided powerful insights into how genomes contribute to the evolution, development and diversity of all living things.

"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, Ph.D. "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."

In addition to celebrating the completion of the Human Genome Project, the exhibition will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of Drs. James D. Watson and Francis Crick's discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. That revolutionary discovery laid the foundation for understanding how DNA encodes and copies genetic information to pass on to the next generation.

"We are at an inflection point in the history of biology. What science has taught us about genomics in the last 10 years will undoubtedly be dwarfed by the revolutionary advancements to come," said Gregory T. Lucier, chairman and chief executive officer of Life Technologies. "The goal of the Life Technologies Foundation through its lead sponsorship is to educate visitors to this exhibition on the powerful information we can now unlock within their DNA as a result of the Human Genome Project and the impact it will have in medicine and their daily lives."

The NMNH exhibition, now in development, will be organized around several themes, including the genome and you, the natural world, health, and humanity. The exhibition will present key insights about the human genome to the museum's approximately 7 million annual visitors. It will provide museumgoers with new ways to look at themselves as individuals, as members of a family, and as a species that is part of the diversity of life on the planet. They will discover how scientists use genomics to establish links between genes and specific diseases and traits, as well as the latest advances in genomic medicine, prenatal testing 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 genomic advances.

The approximately 2,500-square-foot exhibition will occupy NMNH's Hall 23, the exhibition hall that typically houses temporary exhibitions, but an appropriate venue since humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. After at least a year at the museum, the exhibition will travel to venues around the nation and the world. The exhibition will be accompanied by free educational resources and programs on genetics and genomics.

About NHGRI
NHGRI is one of the 27 institutes and centers at the NIH. NHGRI supports the development of resources and technology that will accelerate genome research and its application to human health. Additional information about NHGRI can be found at its website, www.genome.gov.

About NIH
NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

About the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
Established by the United States Congress to support the mission of the NIH — improving health through scientific discovery in the search for cure — the Foundation for the NIH is a leader in identifying and addressing complex scientific and health issues. The Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization that raises private-sector funds for a broad portfolio of unique programs that complement and enhance the NIH priorities and activities. For additional information about the Foundation for the NIH, visit www.fnih.org.

About the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's preeminent museum and research complex. The museum is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery, and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions, education outreach programs and digital resources. NMNH is the largest natural history museum in the world with more than 127 million science specimens and cultural artifacts. As one of the world's great repositories of scientific and cultural heritage it is a source of tremendous pride for all Americans. For more information, visit www.mnh.si.edu.

About The Life Technologies Foundation
The Life Technologies Foundation is dedicated to advancing science education and changing perspectives on how the application of biology can address societal needs. In particular, the Foundation supports programs that accelerate the adoption and understanding of genomics in healthcare; Global Exhibitions and Science Festivals, and projects that advance life science education among today's educators and tomorrow's scientists through their groundbreaking K-12 hands-on science program, InnovatioNationTM.

About the Brin Wojcicki Foundation
The Brin Wojcicki Foundation was established by Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google and Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder of 23andMe, a leading personal genetics company. The Brin Wojcicki Foundation's mission is to effect world change in Parkinson's research, to support individual rights and freedom from oppression, to develop opportunities for those in need in poverty, health and education and to support transformational and disruptive research.

About Celgene Corporation
Celgene Corporation, headquartered in Summit, New Jersey, is an integrated global pharmaceutical company engaged primarily in the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through gene and protein regulation. For more information, please visit the company's website at www.celgene.com.

About Pacific Biosciences
Pacific Biosciences' mission is to transform the way humankind acquires, processes and interprets data from living systems through the design, development and commercialization of innovative tools for biological research. The company has developed a novel approach to studying the synthesis and regulation of DNA, RNA and proteins. Combining recent advances in nanofabrication, biochemistry, molecular biology, surface chemistry and optics, Pacific Biosciences has created a powerful technology platform called single molecule, real-time, or SMRT®, technology. SMRT technology enables real-time analysis of biomolecules with single molecule resolution, which has the potential to transform the understanding of biological systems by providing a window into these systems that has not previously been open for scientific study. For more information, please visit the company's website at www.pacificbiosciences.com.

About New England Biolabs
Established in the mid 1970's, New England Biolabs, Inc. is the industry leader in the discovery and production of enzymes for molecular biology applications and now offers the largest selection of recombinant and native enzymes for genomic research. NEB continues to expand its product offerings into areas related to PCR, gene expression, library preparation for next generation sequencing, cellular analysis, epigenetics and RNA analysis. Additionally, NEB is focused on strengthening alliances that enable new technologies to reach key market sectors. New England Biolabs is a privately held company, headquartered in Ipswich, MA, and has extensive worldwide distribution through a network of exclusive distributors, agents and six subsidiaries located in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and the UK. For more information about New England Biolabs, visit www.neb.com.

About Genentech
Founded more than 30 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit www.gene.com.

Contact

Omar McCrimmon, NHGRI
301-402-0911
mccrimmono@mail.nih.gov

Randall Kremer, NMNH
202-633-0817
kremerr@si.edu

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Last Updated: August 4, 2012