Coming Soon! New Bradbury Science Museum Ribosome Exhibit

Shannan Schnedler, the New Mexico Consortium’s (NSF) Director of Community Development, has been working closely with Dr. Karissa Sanbonmatsu and her team, including collaborators in Berlin and at Cornell University, on a new Ribosome Exhibit at the Bradbury Science Museum. This exhibit is a part of an NSF grant led by Dr. Sanbonmatsu.

Dr. Sanbonmatsu is a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist and NMC affiliate who specializes in the study of ribosome simulations. The Sanbonmatsu Team uses computational and experimental approaches, including performing large scale simulations in order to understand the ribosome.

The Ribosome Exhibit will be a walk-through multi-media exhibit designed to teach museum visitors all about ribosomes, what they do, and why they are important.

What are ribosomes? Ribosomes are molecular machines that make proteins from amino acids. Proteins are essential to life because they are what our cells use to build.
Did you know the ribosome is like a tiny 3D printer found inside every cell, and is printing out proteins all day long? All living organisms, from the smallest bacterium to humans, are made of proteins, and the biological machine that makes proteins is the ribosome (Image on the right courtesy of DOE/LANL).

Understanding how ribosomes work is the key to learning how to fight sickness and disease! Some cancers, as well as some genetic disorders, are the result of DNA mutations that produce defective ribosome components. Some cancer treatments kill tumor cells by targeting the defective components, helping to restore normal ribosome activity. In some genetic diseases, ribosomes produce only part of a protein. The therapy goal is to repair those ribosomes so they do not make errors. Clinical trials are underway to test a new drug to fix ribosomes. 

Sanbonmatsu and her team are studying ribosomes in order to discover a way to stop cancer and muscular dystrophy. By using LANL supercomputers, the Sanbonmatsu Team is working towards the goal of predicting how the ribosome moves, which will lay the foundation for new drug development. 

The first completed Ribosome Machine exhibit will be traveling for three months at a time to different locations to teach as many people as possible about this amazing research. The exhibit first traveled to San José, California's Science Museum Convention where it gathered interest and a list of over 50 other museums, institutions, and hospitals that have signed up for one of the installations. 

The Ribosome exhibit is scheduled to make it's traveling debut in Tampa Florida at the Museum of Science and Industry, starting in January 2018. It will ship from Los Alamos in mid-December.  

You too can learn about the ribosome and the Sanbonmatsu Team's work on amazing science being done right here in Los Alamos! When completed, the second exhibit will be permanently installed at the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos starting in early 2018. We hope everyone can come by and see this exhibit for themselves.

The Ribosome Machine museum exhibit is sponsored by the New Mexico Consortium, Charité, Weill Cornell Medical College, the National Science Foundation, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The exhibit is a part of the educational outreach component of an NSF grant.


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