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"Genome, Unlocking Life's Code" Exhibit Opens at Natural History Museum of Utah

A new exhibit opens this weekend at the Natural History Museum of Utah. It’s called“Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code.”  Lisa Thompson is the museum’s exhibit developer. She says it’s the melding of a Smithsonian Museum traveling exhibit created by various health institutes, her museum staff and genetics researchers from University of Utah Health Sciences.

“If you’re a little bit nervous about your knowledge of DNA and genomics and you didn’t ever really quite understand DNA, this exhibit provides a beautiful introduction,” says Thompson.

Lisa Canon-Albright is a longtime researcher and professor of genetic epidemiology at the “U”. She says researchers found an ideal home in Utah for this type of study because of Mormon interest in genealogy and good record-keeping.

“So if you link a genealogy and cancer data, suddenly you are going to be a powerhouse of cancer genetics and we are and we have been since the ‘70s,” Canon-Albright says.

Emily Scalley’s family has been devastated by a genetic predisposition to a cancer called Lynch Syndrome. Testing has shown that she has the trait.

“The way it was explained to me, it was like going to the biggest library in the world and they’re looking for one book, one chapter, one paragraph, one word that is misspelled," says Scalley.  "And luckily my grandmother did testing years ago and so they know now where they’re looking for those markers.”

Scalley says they’ve been able to make a bad situation better by staying ahead of the game with more intensive screening and the eventual testing of her children.

The Natural History Museum of Utah hosts “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” until September 5th as part of the regular admission price.  All University of Utah faculty, staff and students have free admission to NHMU.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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