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Zoo in You: The Human Microbiome, a bilingual exhibition that explores the complex microbiome that lives in the human body, to open at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

The traveling exhibition was created in partnership between the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Opening on January 30, 2016, in the Fleet's main exhibit gallery.

January 21, 2016

San Diego—Did you know that trillions of microbes make their homes inside the human body? In fact, these microorganisms outnumber human cells 10 to 1, "colonize" us right from birth and are so interwoven into our existence that without each other, none of us would survive! 

In Zoo in You: The Human Microbiome, visitors can now explore this fascinating and complex world that is our microbiome--a dynamic, adaptable and delicately balanced ecosystem like any other found in nature.

Opening on January 30, 2016, in the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center's Main Gallery, the new 2,000-square-foot bilingual traveling exhibition was created in partnership between the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), and funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In Zoo in You, visitors will meet the good microbes that aid digestion or crowd out less friendly freeloaders and also the bad ones that may trigger disease. Fleet visitors will learn who our constant microbial companions are, where they live, how diverse they are and in what ways scientists are discovering just how important they are to our personal health.

The Zoo in You exhibition features 15 interactive exhibit components, organized by three topic areas: "Meet the Microbes," "Our Complex Ecosystems" and "Exploring the Microbiome."

In "Meet the Microbes," we'll learn that microbes are our constant companions, living on and inside us from the moment we're born. Visitors can learn how a newborn baby is colonized by microbes and play a game to observe how their microbiome reacts to everyday occurrences in the body.

Through "Our Complex Ecosystems," visitors can interact with green screen technology to give a "weather report" on the climate conditions of their nose, mouth, gut or skin, or virtually wash their hands and observe how long it takes to be free of germs.

And in "Exploring the Microbiome," guests see that learning about the microbiome will greatly increase their understanding of human health. Attendees will get the chance to peer into a microscope and examine real preserved microbe specimens or build their own three-dimensional virus and see if it matches the gigantic bacteriophage virus towering nearby.

Human bodies are complex ecosystems that science is just beginning to explore. Thanks to new sophisticated technology and the cutting-edge research on the Human Microbiome, scientists are starting to discover what these microbes are up to and how they affect us.

San Diego is at the forefront of human microbiome science, with research taking place at institutions like the JCVI; the University of California, San Diego; the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the Scripps Research Institute.

"One of our key missions at the Venter Institute is spreading our vast knowledge of the genome to the scientists of the future," said Dr. Karen Nelson, President, JCVI. "Zoo in You brings our human microbiome to life in a way that people can visualize.  An institution like the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is a perfect venue for us to display this new exhibition and reach people of all ages."

"This exhibition explores some of the most important and innovative scientific research going on in San Diego at the J. Craig Venter Institute and other organizations," said Steve Snyder, CEO of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. "We're looking forward to introducing our visitors to the science of their own microbiome and discoveries being made right in our community."

The Zoo in You exhibition will be open from January 30 to May 8, 2016, in the main exhibit gallery space of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. The exhibition is included with the cost of Fleet admission. 

The bilingual exhibition pairs well with another current traveling exhibition at the Fleet, Super Cells: The Power of Stem Cells.

For more information on Zoo In You visit: http://www.rhfleet.org/exhibitions/zoo-you

Press images are available at: http://www.rhfleet.org/press-room/images#19819

About Zoo in You from the JCVI website: http://www.jcvi.org/cms/research/projects/zoo-in-you/overview/

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To schedule a media preview of Zoo In You, please contact Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Public Relations Manager Nathan Young at 619-685-5743 or nyoung@rhfleet.org.
Interviews can be scheduled with the Fleet's CEO, Dr. Steve Snyder, as well as representatives from the J. Craig Venter Institute.
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About the J. Craig Venter Institute
About J. Craig Venter Institute The JCVI is a not-for-profit research institute in La Jolla, CA and Rockville, MD dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. Founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the JCVI is home to approximately 200 scientists and staff with expertise in human and evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics/informatics, information technology, high-throughput DNA sequencing, genomic and environmental policy research, and public education in science and science policy. The JCVI is a 501 (c)(3) organization. For additional information, please visit http://www.JCVI.org.
JCVI Media contact: Heather Kowalski, hkowalski@jcvi.org - 



About the Fleet Science Center:

The Fleet Science Center connects people of all ages to the possibilities and power of science to create a better future. At the science center, you can explore and investigate more than 100 interactive exhibits that pique your curiosity and become immersed in an IMAX film adventure that shows the wonders of the planet--and beyond--in the Eugene Heikoff and Marilyn Jacobs Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. For young science enthusiasts, the Fleet offers science workshops both at the Fleet and at schools throughout San Diego County. For adults, we offer events like Suds & Science and Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar™ at locations all over San Diego. We support communities by leveraging science resources to meet local needs. Teachers are encouraged to join our Teacher Partner Program and take advantage of our professional development opportunities. Additionally, at the Fleet Science Center, visitors will find unique educational toys and games, books, IMAX DVDs and more in the North Star Science Store, and pizzas, sandwiches, salads and healthy treats in our Craveology cafe. Located in Balboa Park, at 1875 El Prado, two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd., the Fleet is San Diego's science center. Science starts here and opens a world of possibility. For information regarding current admission prices, visit our website at fleetscience.org.
About Balboa Park:
Located near downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urbancultural park in the United States. First established by the City of San Diego in 1868, it is also one of the oldest city parks in the nation and is the most visited single destination in San Diego. Its 1,200 acres include 17 museums, many gardens and attractions, the San Diego Zoo, miles of hiking trails, and multiple athletic complexes to explore and discover. For more information, visit balboapark.org.

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