Global event to honour Mendel 150 years after founding genetics

20 July 2015
On 20 July 2015, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will be part of a global celebration to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of modern genetics.

Major scientific institutions across five continents will unite in the global celebration of the vision of Gregor Mendel, a man whose discoveries helped shape the world we live in today.

Mendel: The Legacy is an initiative of the Mendel Museum of Masaryk University, Czech Republic. The event in Brno, Czech Republic, will honour the contributions of Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, with an audiovisual show projected on the walls of the Old Brno Abbey, where Mendel did his groundbreaking work.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute biomedical animator Mr Drew Berry has created a custom artwork honouring Mendel’s contributions to science. The animated light show will be accompanied by a full orchestral score by composer Duncan Hendy, performed live by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra. The event will also be broadcast online at a number of international institutions across the world, including the Royal Society (UK), Natural History Museum in Berlin, Germany, and The University of Melbourne.

Mr Berry said he was excited by the opportunity to honour Mendel’s scientific legacy.

“Mendel’s work is really one of the giant moments in scientific history,” Mr Berry said. “There is a tremendous revolution going on now in medical research that is transforming our understanding of how our bodies work. That started with the field of genetics, which was founded by Gregor Mendel 150 years ago with the publication of his experiments in plant hybridisation.

“We put a lot of effort into celebrating sporting heroes or actors from Hollywood – which is terrific – and we should put the same amount of attention and celebration into our scientific heroes, and the enormous effect they have made to us as people and us as societies.”

Mr Berry said the façade of the Abbey where Mendel performed his studies would be the backdrop for his animated projection.

“What excites me most – and terrifies me most – about this project is that I’ve been given the façade of the Abbey where Gregor Mendel actually did his work as my canvas,” Mr Berry said. “We will project all kinds of imagery exploring Mendel’s paper in great detail as we reveal and transform the into visual stories up on the walls of the Abbey.

“This is the very place where Mendel planted his seeds, and counted his peas, and went up to his room that overlooked the garden and used mathematics to reveal the patterns in nature and to found the laws of genetics.”

Mendel: The Legacy is part of the global celebration, Mendel: The Legacy – 150 years of the genius of genetics, which is held under the auspices of Bohuslav Sobotka – prime minister of the Czech Republic, Mikuláš Bek – Rector of Masaryk University and the Czech commission of UNESCO. The event is held under the auspices of Michal Hašek – Governor of the southern Moravia region.

The event begins on 20 July 2015 at 7pm (Czech Republic) and 21 July 2015 at 3am Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Watch it live by subscribing to the Mendel: The Legacy YouTube page.

Further information

Liz Williams
Media and Publications Manager
T: 0428 034 089
E: williams@wehi.edu.au

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