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New Exhibit on Infectious Diseases Opens March 31 at the Koshland Science Museum

Media Contact: Museum Communications Officer, Koshland Science Museum
Phone: 202-334-1201, Email: Museum Communications Officer

Maureen O'Leary, Office of News and Public Information, The National Academies
202-334-2138, Email: Maureen O'Leary

March 2, 2007Washington, DC – The threat of infectious disease can be felt in all corners of the globe, from the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS, to the search for vaccines that can protect against new strains of the flu. Infectious disease is a global burden, affecting policy decisions and personal health choices around the world.

On March 31, the Marian Koshland Science Museum will open a new interactive exhibit, Infectious Disease: Evolving Challenges to Human Health. This exhibit provides an in-depth view of the microbes that cause some of the world's most deadly diseases and explores the challenges facing researchers today.

"New threats emerge every day because of microbial evolution, more rapidly changing environments, and the increased movement of people over short and long distances," said Elliott Kieff, chairman of the scientific steering committee that oversaw the creation of the exhibit, and professor of medicine and microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard University. "Our response to microbes determines the spread of disease."

This major exhibit features interactive displays providing a rarely seen view of our microbial world. Visitors will gain an understanding of how scientists develop tools and strategies to treat diseases. Displays allow visitors to explore the distribution of microbes both in our bodies and around the world, see how vaccines are used to control or eradicate disease, and learn how bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics.

On Tuesday, March 27, reporters are invited to attend a preview of the new exhibit at the Koshland Science Museum from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Interviews will be available with Erika Shugart, deputy director of the museum and curator of the infectious disease exhibit, as well as members of the scientific steering committee. Reporters who wish to attend this preview should register in advance with the museum. Preview tours are also available by appointment for members of the press from March 12 to March 30; requests must be scheduled through the museum.

The exhibit will open to the general public on Saturday, March 31, with free admission and hands-on activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a featured discussion from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. with New York Times science reporter Denise Grady.

The Marian Koshland Science Museum is part of the National Academies, a private, nonprofit organization comprised of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. Together they enlist the nation's most knowledgeable scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to volunteer their time to the study of specific issues.

The mission of the Marian Koshland Science Museum is to engage the general public in current scientific issues that impact their lives. The museum's state-of-the-art exhibits, public programs, and educational programs provide information that stimulates discussion and provides insight into how science supports decision-making. Located at 6th and E streets, N.W., the museum is easily accessible by metro at the Gallery Place/Chinatown and Judiciary Square stops. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays. For more information, visit online.

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