Bacteria, yeast, mold, and other microorganisms can be the catalysts for severe illnesses, but they can also be used to produce life-saving medications, not to mention food and beverage items that are consumed every day. A traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine, currently on display in the lobby of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, explores several major scientific accomplishments related to microorganisms. The exhibit also shows the close relationship that medicine and industry have shared throughout modern history; a relationship that has produced insulin, antibiotics, and antitoxins, not to mention, beer!
On the panels that make up this colorful exhibit, you can read about the rise of penicillin, which earned the nickname “yellow magic” for its life-saving applications during World War II. The exhibit also documents the development and early applications of human growth hormone and describes the techniques invented by Louis Pasteur for studying microorganisms during the beer-making process.
Also being exhibited in the lobby are artifacts and books from the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library’s Historical Collections. Among these items you can find an 1879 edition of Louis Pasteur’s Studies on Fermentation, a 19th century microscope once owned by a UVA student, and a World War II-era penicillin bottle which was used at the Eighth Evacuation Hospital, a wartime medical unit sponsored by UVA.
From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine & Industry was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The accompanying display of artifacts and books was designed by Eric Drongowski, formerly of Historical Collections & Services. The exhibit will remain up through the end of September 2017.