DNA to Beer exhibit opens at MCV

Photo by Julie Tripp.

Sarah King
Staff Writer

It is no secret that college students drink a lot of beer, but now VCU students can learn a little bit about the science behind the alcoholic drink from the traveling exhibit, “From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry,” featured at the MCV campus’ Tompkins-McCaw Library.

The exhibit opened on Tuesday, Jan. 21 and will be featured on the first floor of the library at MCV until March 1. “From DNA to Beer” is courtesy of the National Library of Medicine and is being featured by MCV’s special collections and archives.

“This exhibit explores some of the processes, problems, and potential inherent in technologies that use micro-organisms for health and commercial purposes,” stated the exhibit synopsis on the VCU event website.

The display consists of six banners that elaborate on how scientists and the beer industry have tinkered with techniques to modify bacteria, yeast, molds and hormones to create new therapies and beverages.

“The National Library of Medicine has a very active traveling exhibit program so we try to bring all of them here (to MCV). We don’t make a choice based on the subject matter, we just say ‘yes, we’d like to have that at VCU’,” said Jodi Koste, the VCU university archivist.

The National Library of Medicine’s website expands on the exhibit and breaks down scientific terminology into layman’s language to elaborate on the role of microbes, human growth hormone, and penicillin in DNA research and how this can be generalized to products like beer through collaboration with industry.

“We’ve had many exhibits from the National Library of Medicine that are very relevant. They’re all tied in to the health sciences so we really hope that they all enhance the student experience,” Koste said.

The university does not pay the National Library of Medicine for the exhibit, only for shipping costs. Tompkins-McCaw Library is open from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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