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UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 10 | Oct. 2, 2003

The Geee! In Genome

Celebrating 50 years of DNA research

By Hilary Thomson

Canada’s first national travelling exhibition on the science of genomics -- including a special module honouring the legacy of the late Michael Smith, UBC professor of biotechnology who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993 -- opened Oct. 2 at Vancouver’s Science World and runs to Jan. 5, 2004.

Called The Geee! in Genome, the exhibit coincides with the 50th anniversary of the landmark scientific publication by James Watson and Francis Crick that described the double helix structure of DNA. The exhibition explores topics ranging from the ABCs of DNA, genes and genomics to the impact of this emerging field of science on agriculture, the environment and human health.

“I think it’s wonderful that this Canada-wide exhibit has travelled to Vancouver first because B.C. scientists have been so instrumental in developing the knowledge base that we call genomics,” says Prof. Sid Katz, UBC’s executive director, Community Affairs, who helped develop the exhibit. “We hope the exhibit sparks a lot of public dialogue, not only about health, but also about fisheries, forestry, agriculture -- everything connected with genome science.”

The Geee! in Genome visitors will be introduced to the intricate functions of genes and cells and they will learn and have an opportunity to debate controversial ethical issues such as genetic testing, gene therapy, human cloning, genetically modified organisms, labelling and safety, DNA databanks and privacy issues.

Katz worked on the exhibit with David Ng, who directs the Advanced Molecular Biology Lab at UBC’s Biotechnology Lab, and Asst. Prof. David Anderson of the Faculty of Education. The team also helped create the workshop experience for visitors to the exhibit, the curriculum-based school programs as well as local speakers’ forums to be held at Science World.

Michael Smith was director of B.C. Cancer Agency’s Genome Sequence Centre in Vancouver and founding director of the UBC Biotechnology Lab. The Nobel Prize recognized his groundbreaking work in reprogramming segments of DNA, the building blocks of life. His work is credited by peers as launching a new era in genetics research. His legacy continues with the recent achievement of the agency being the first in the world to sequence the SARS virus.

The exhibit was produced by the Canadian Museum of Nature and is presented nationally by Genome Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The exhibit is hosted by Science World and presented locally by Genome British Columbia.

The exhibition will visit about nine cities across Canada over a three-year period. For more information on the exhibit and the public forum schedule, visit www.genomebc.ca.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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