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.
"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."
Bronwyn Terrill, Public Engagement Manager at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
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. 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."
Allan Bradley, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
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. It's a new way of giving everyone a voice."
Dr John Sulston, acting Chair of the Human Genetics Commission
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. These will be updated and modified during the five-year life of Inside DNA to ensure we capture the latest research."
Bronwyn Terrill, Sanger Institute
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.
"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."
Clare Matterson, Director of Medicine, Society and History at the Wellcome Trust
"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."
Goéry Delacôte, Chief Executive of At-Bristol and Executive Director of Inside DNA's project board
"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."
Dr Penny Fidler, Director of Ecsite-uk
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.