April 24, 2018

Discover first-hand how DNA impacts your health — “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code”

By Colette Gallagher

Genomics and Society: photo courtesy of Science North. This interactive program available at the exhibit invites you to consider different opinions about some of the issues surrounding genomic technologies and how they relate to your life.

DNA does more than determine your hair color or eye color — it can provide a roadmap that can help you trace your ancestral past. Understanding more about what is in your entire DNA — the genome — can help you take charge of your health.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of National DNA Day, a national observance to raise awareness about the discovery of DNA's double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 and the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. Thanks to the pioneering work of the Human Genome Project, we are starting to understand much more about ourselves.

To celebrate these advances “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code,” produced by the Smithsonian Institute and the National Institutes of Health, is coming to Rochester, Minnesota this summer. The exhibit’s debut was in 2013 at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., and since then it has been traveling throughout North America. Mayo Clinic is the first academic medical center to sponsor the exhibit with the goal of advancing genomics awareness and education in the community.

Timothy Curry, M.D., Ph.D.

I spoke with Timothy Curry, M.D., Ph.D., education program director at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine about the exhibit and the importance of genomics education.

Q: What impact does genomics have on people’s lives?

A: By learning what genomics is and how it is being applied to wellness and health care, the community will benefit by having a better understanding of the relevance of genomics in their lives and see first-hand how it relates to health and disease. This is an opportunity for visitors to learn how genomics can affect their perspectives about health, identity, and their place in the natural world. They can see themselves in a new way: as an individual, as a member of a family, and as part of the diversity of life on Earth.

Q: What makes this exhibit stand out from your typical educational exhibit?

A: “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code,” was a two year collaboration between the Smithsonian Museum and the National Institutes of Health with the goal of creating an interactive and engaging exhibit to educate and inform the public about the revolutionary nature of genomic science. Visitors can explore what a genome is, how it relates to medicine and health, and how it connects humans to all of life on the planet, both past and present. Within the galleries, personalized and interactive experiences offer hands-on and media interactives and videos. In addition, having the Rochester Art Center as the host of the exhibit gives us the opportunity to connect science and art.

First Person Plural, an artistic rendering by Eric Anderson. Attendees interact with a video exhibition inviting them to consider, challenge and share their own perspectives on health and identity.

Q: What can visitors expect to see in the art exhibitions?

A: Several art exhibitions from national and local artists will explore and expand the view of genomics as it relates to human health and disease. The Center for Individualized Medicine and the Rochester Art Center identified artists who explore questions surrounding genomics. Visitors will see a variety of art from a photography display exploring the social and psychological experiences of people of all ages to ethno-cultural heritages living with genetic conditions. Interactive, immersive video displays show how we define identity and hands-on sculptures explore questions or themes visitors may have about the genome.

Q: How do you see genomics impacting health?

A: Today, Mayo Clinic patients can get DNA sequencing tests for numerous disease-causing genes. Physicians may use this information, along with what we have learned from research studies, to help understand symptoms patients may have and even diagnose rare diseases. Mayo Clinic is performing DNA sequencing every day. Our research teams continue to study how genomic testing impacts health, wellness and medical care.

See the exhibit June 23 through Sept. 21

You can discover first-hand how genomics impacts health, disease and treatment.  Mark your calendar this summer to check out “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” from June 23-Sept. 21 at the Rochester Art Center.

For more information visit “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code.”

“Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” was developed and produced by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the National Institutes for Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute, in association with Science North.

“Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” is made possible in part by financial support secured by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is sponsoring the exhibit with benefactor support.

Join us at this year's Individualizing Medicine Conference

See the “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” exhibit when you attend this year’s Individualizing Medicine Conference on Sept. 12-13, in Rochester, Minnesota. Sponsored by the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, the conference brings together precision medicine experts from Mayo Clinic and around the world to share how the latest genomic discoveries are advancing patient care.

Tags: #Genome: Unlocking Life's Code, #Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, center for individualized medicine, DNA, Dr. Timothy Curry, Genetics, genomic medicine, genomics, mayo clinic, National DNA Day, National Human Genome Research Institute, Precision Medicine

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