Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Genome Exhibit Opens at Smithsonian

ARCHIVES
Image via nmid/Shutterstock.com

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project—a 13-year endeavor that I had the privilege of leading—the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC is launching an absolutely fantastic exhibit called “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code.”

The exhibit goes way beyond basic biology—what DNA looks like, what it’s made of, and how it works—and reveals how your genome affects your life, and your past, current, and future health.

You’ll be able to see how scientists make connections between genes and traits and diseases. And you’ll see how we can personalize your medicines and drug therapies according to your genes.

There are plenty of interactive activities to capture your interest and imagination. For example, you could do a little detective work using DNA samples. Or you might choose a physical trait and explore the genes that contribute to it—where, for example, is one of the major genes for eye color? If you’re a history buff, you might want to trace the ancestry of one of nine characters, using their DNA to peer into their recent and deep history and trace their migration route out of Africa.

The exhibit also reveals the complex ethical, social, environmental, and legal issues raised by our understanding of the genome and our newfound ability to decode it—and even change it.  Just today, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that genes isolated from the human body are not patentable. The decision represents a victory for all those eagerly awaiting more individualized, gene-based approaches to medical care.

The exhibit will travel the country in future years, but if you get a chance to visit it here in Washington, don’t pass it up.  Just look for the Hope diamond on the second floor, and take a left.  By visiting this exhibit, you’ll see yourself differently. I guarantee it. Perhaps you’ll see how similar your genetic code is to another species and gain a fuller appreciation of the Tree of Life. Perhaps you’ll recognize that, no matter how different two people look—all humans share more than 99% of their DNA.  That’s the best evidence you could imagine to show that humankind is really just one big family.

It is well worth the visit. ENJOY!

The exhibit opens to the public tomorrow, June 14.

Image via nmid/Shutterstock.com

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In that role he oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH from 1993-2008.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.