Century of medical breakthroughs celebrated at Melbourne Museum

02 September 2016
The history and achievements of medical research in Melbourne have been showcased in a new exhibition at Melbourne Museum.
Exhibition view
The Biomedical breakthroughs: a new view of you
exhibition at Melbourne Museum brings the inner
workings of the human body to life. 

The Biomedical breakthroughs: a new view of you exhibition, produced in partnership with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and CSL, brings the inner workings of the human body to life through interactive and immersive experiences.

The exhibition, which opened to the public today and runs until January 2017, celebrates the centenaries of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (founded in 1915) and CSL (founded in 1916), and also features historic items from both organisations.

Professor Doug Hilton, director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes, said the exhibition provided many examples of how the Institute and CSL have improved health in Australia and worldwide. 

“Many Victorians aren’t aware of the many advances in healthcare we take for granted today that originated in medical research laboratories right here,” he said. “The exhibit is a fantastic way for our community to learn about the world leading medical research that occurs in our state.”

Professor Hilton said the exhibition highlighted the close ties the Institute has had with CSL since the two organisations were established. “In the 1920s and 1930s the first antivenoms for Australian snakes were developed through collaborations between Institute and CSL researchers,” he said.

“Today we continue to work closely on a range of translational research. The Institute’s bioinformatics and immunology researchers are also the beneficiaries of generous support from CSL to our Centenary Fellowships campaign,” Professor Hilton said.

A centrepiece of the exhibition is an immersive dome projecting animations of biological processes created by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute biomedical animator Dr Drew Berry.

Dr Berry said in the past century our understanding of human biology had moved from what we could largely see with the naked eye or a weak microscope down to the atomic scale. 

“It’s just vast and mind-boggling what we are discovering about how our bodies work,” he said. “We can’t see the molecules that are keeping us alive and controlling our health, so with our animations we aim to represent what scientists – including those right here in Melbourne – are discovering about the inner workings of our own bodies.”

The exhibition is curated by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute alumna Dr Johanna Simkin, who said visitors would be blown away with the exquisite, chaotically-coordinated biology occurring within their own bodies. 

“Many people do not realise the significant impact Melbourne’s research community has had on the biomedical field – from pioneering antivenom research, to Nobel Prize-winning theories in immunology, to today’s ground-breaking plasma and cancer therapies,” she said. “Melbournians will love this visual extravaganza. They will hear home-grown stories, and can discover the intricate beauty of the biology inside them.”


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