29th November 2007

Inside DNA

Unique travelling exhibition offers the public a chance to shape future science policy

genome explorer

In the genome explorer, visitors can choose a chromosome and interrogate it to find out about specific locations and their functions along the genome. This exhibit will be continually updated, and currently includes more than 50 video interviews with researchers, clinicians and commentators.<br />[Credit: David Sayer, Wellcome Images]

A unique travelling exhibition launched today in Bristol will offer the public the chance to challenge their own perceptions of current genome research and to have a say in the future policy of a science that will affect our lives.

Researchers and Public Engagement staff from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute made a major contribution to the £1.5 million five-year project Inside DNA: A Genomic Revolution, the first UK major touring exhibition on genomics.

The exhibition aims to reach over one million people across the nation over the next five years. Visitors will have direct access to the research and opinions of leading UK scientists involved in genomic science in the areas of health, identity and evolution. Contributors include former Prime Minister Tony Blair; and eminent scientist John Sulston, founding Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where almost one-third of the human genome was decoded.

Bronwyn Terrill, Public Engagement Manager at the Sanger Institute, was involved from the earliest steps and collaborated closely with the At-Bristol content team.

Bronwyn comments: "Inside DNA will provide an experience of genomics to match the excitement of the research. An engaged public is vital if we, as a society, are to make the best use of information generated by genomic research. We want to get one million people talking."

" We want to get one million people talking "

Bronwyn Terrill

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the exhibition is the result of a partnership between Sanger Institute, Ecsite-uk, the UK network of science centres and museums, and At-Bristol, a leading science centre in the UK.

"As a leading genomics institution, we were delighted to be involved in the development of Inside DNA," explains Allan Bradley, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Thousands of people visit our campus each year and our researchers - as well as carrying out ground-breaking research - are actively involved in engaging with a wide range of audiences, to help them appreciate the issues raised by this exciting work."

Inside DNA provides a combination of interactive exhibits and programmes. Visitors can explore the role of genes and environment in human biology and health as well as take part in the debate about our use of genomic research. Feedback from the project will be shared directly with the Human Genetics Commission - the UK Government's advisory body on new developments in human genetics and how they impact on people's lives.

"We in the Human Genetics Commission are tremendously looking forward to the flow of ideas and opinions from Inside DNA," comments Dr John Sulston, acting Chair of the Human Genetics Commission. "It's a new way of giving everyone a voice."

Inside DNA opens in Explore-At-Bristol on 29 November 2007, then travels to Newcastle in autumn 2008 and Glasgow in spring 2009. The 350 m2 exhibition includes more than 30 exhibits in four main areas: genetics, identity, health and evolution.

"These are areas where science meets society and the displays will encourage visitors to ask questions about contemporary research," explains Bronwyn. "These will be updated and modified during the five-year life of Inside DNA to ensure we capture the latest research."

In addition to the main touring exhibition, the team have developed smaller satellite units that will tour the UK in public spaces such as shopping centres and hospitals.

Clare Matterson, Director of Medicine, Society and History at the Wellcome Trust comments: "The arrival of this touring exhibition could not have come at a more appropriate time. As scientific breakthroughs in the field of genetics are constantly under scrutiny from an eager public, wanting to find out more about their own health and how genes affect our susceptibility to certain diseases. The Wellcome Trust is firmly committed to engaging the public with science, and we are delighted that Inside DNA will reach such a wide audience."

Goéry Delacôte, Chief Executive of At-Bristol and Executive Director of Inside DNA's project board, says: "At-Bristol is very proud to be at the forefront of this project, which breaks the frontier of science communication, and be part of this genomic revolution."

Dr Penny Fidler, Director of Ecsite-uk comments: "We are delighted this ground-breaking exhibition will tour eight of our science centres and museums, encouraging people in all parts of our nation to explore and discuss the latest advances in genetics, and to share their views with policy-makers."

Funded by The Wellcome Trust, the exhibition is spearheaded by Ecsite-uk, and produced by At-Bristol. At-Bristol has led on the management and development of the project with support and input from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, who also led on the scientific advisory panel.

Notes to Editors

like me

Visitors compare their characteristics in 'How many like me?' and zoom into a scan of their own hand to seek their genome.<br /> [Credit: David Sayer, Wellcome Images]

Inside DNA

Inside DNA opens in Explore-At-Bristol on 29 November 2007: it will be travelling to Centre for Life in Newcastle and Glasgow Science Museum in September 2008 and March 2009, respectively.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, the public is also invited to take part in a unique forum, where nearly 300 individuals from different walks of life will join leading scientists and ethicists from the UK in a lively debate, exchanging their views and insights on the future of genome research. The 'Future of Genomics' will explore, through discussion, issues including the future for this fast-moving field, consequences of its development on modern life and society and beneficiaries of this area of science.

Participating experts include Nobel Laureate John Sulston as well as leading researchers, advisors and commentators from Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Human Genetics Commission, North West Genetics Knowledge Park and the University of Oxford. The event will be chaired by Dr Alice Roberts, of the University of Bristol and presenter of the BBC2 series Don't Die Young and Coast.

At-Bristol

At-Bristol (registered charity 1049954) is a leading science centre in the UK and a major player in the worldwide science centre movement. It is a world-class science and discovery centre that makes distinctive, valued and recognised contributions to informal science learning and public engagement with science across Europe. A registered charity, At-Bristol has hosted more than 3 million visits to-date.

The science centre has an extensive track record of managing and producing large-scale exhibitions. It is fast becoming a hub, developing exhibitions on behalf of and in collaboration with consortia of science centres and institutions. At-Bristol is the only UK science centre to be part of the Science Learning Centres network.

Ecsite-uk

Ecsite-uk represents the interests of more than 50 science centres, science museums and discovery centres in the UK. Ecsite-uk was set up in 2001 to give the expanding sector a strong national voice. They aim to raise the profile of science centres and to establish their role as a forum for dialogue between science specialists and the public whilst offering the centres as an informal resource for learners of all ages.

Websites




The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which receives the majority of its funding from the Wellcome Trust, was founded in 1992. The Institute is responsible for the completion of the sequence of approximately one-third of the human genome as well as genomes of model organisms and more than 90 pathogen genomes. In October 2006, new funding was awarded by the Wellcome Trust to exploit the wealth of genome data now available to answer important questions about health and disease.

Websites

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £500 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

Websites

Sanger Institute Contact Information:

Don Powell Press Officer
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Hinxton, Cambs, CB10 1SA, UK

Tel +44 (0)1223 496 928
Mobile +44 (0)7753 7753 97
Fax +44 (0)1223 494 919
Email press.office@sanger.ac.uk

* quick link - http://q.sanger.ac.uk/06yb1stv