UT Southwestern partners with Perot Museum on new exhibit

The UT Southwestern imprint is heavy in the Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s reboot of the Being Human Hall, including a striking exhibit of a human brain with the spinal cord attached.

The brain and spinal cord, which is displayed with dramatic lighting, was donated to UT Southwestern and prepared for display by Dr. Carol Tamminga’s lab.

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One of the new exhibits in the hall is a brain and spinal cord that had been donated to UT Southwestern.

“We understand the public educational value of an actual brain display like this and hope to inspire brain doctors of the future,” said Dr. Tamminga, Chairman of Psychiatry.

The Being Human Hall is the first exhibit hall to be fully reimagined since the opening of the Perot Museum in 2012.

The hall has exhibits that enable guests to “see” their voices and use brain power to fire off pulsing lights. UT Southwestern assisted the Perot Museum with an exhibit that allows visitors to try out a prosthetic limb. In a video display also in the hall, Dr. Rhonda Bassel-Duby, Professor of Molecular Biology, explains how gene editing may someday be used to cure Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.

Dr. Helen Hobbs, Director of the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, was a guest speaker for the revamped exhibit hall’s opening. Dr. Hobbs talked about what led her to become a scientist and encouraged the children in attendance – especially the girls – to consider a career in science.

The Professor of Internal Medicine and Molecular Genetics said she never considered becoming a scientist until she was 30 years old. “My childhood idea of a scientist was the classic image of a ‘mad scientist,’ someone socially awkward, wearing wire-rimmed glasses, and doing solitary work in a windowless lab.”

An extrovert, Dr. Hobbs instead pursued a career in medicine – that is until the late Dr. Donald W. Seldin, Chair of Internal Medicine at the time, encouraged her to switch course. “I don’t know what he saw in me,” Dr. Hobbs said.

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Dr. Hobbs stands beside a display in the hall that showcases the awards of UT Southwestern’s Nobel Laureates.

Dr. Hobbs went on to win many prizes for her work, including the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which is on display at the Being Human Hall alongside the Nobel Prizes and other awards of UTSW Nobel Laureates Dr. Michael Brown, Director of the Erik Jonsson Center for Research in Molecular Genetics and Human Disease; Dr. Joseph Goldstein, Chair of Molecular Genetics; Dr. Johann Deisenhofer, Professor of Biophysics and with the Cecil H. and Ida Green Comprehensive Center for Molecular, Computational, and Systems Biology; Dr. Bruce Beutler, Director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense; and the late Dr. Alfred Gilman, former Chairman of Pharmacology, UT Southwestern Medical School Dean, and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.

Dr. Beutler, a Regental Professor, holds the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, in Honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr.

Dr. Brown, a Regental Professor, holds The W.A. (Monty) Moncrief Distinguished Chair in Cholesterol and Arteriosclerosis Research and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine.

Dr. Deisenhofer, a Regental Professor, holds the Virginia and Edward Linthicum Distinguished Chair in Biomolecular Science.

Dr. Goldstein, a Regental Professor, holds the Julie and Louis A. Beecherl, Jr. Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Research and the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Medicine.

Dr. Hobbs holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished Chair for the Study of Human Growth and Development, the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Chair in Developmental Biology, and the 1995 Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiology Research.

Dr. Tamminga holds the Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc. Chair in Brain Science and the Lou and Ellen McGinley Distinguished Chair in Psychiatric Research.