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Caving for Cures project gains museum limelight

by Sep. 17, 2012, 1:28 PM

If you drop by the American Museum of Natural History the next time you visit New York, there is a good chance that you will see an exhibit highlighting Vanderbilt chemist Brian Bachmann’s “caving for drugs” research. It will be in the Hall of Biodiversity and will be on display in the spring and summer of 2013 for six months.

The key element of the exhibit is a video that the museum produced, which it has posted on YouTube and have put up on the Science Bulletins section of its website: Caving for Cures

The origin of the exhibit was a story and video that we produced last February for Research News @ Vanderbilt: Going underground in search of new drugs.

Our story caught the attention of Alisa Machalek at the National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education, who publishes the NIH Findings magazine. She decided that it would make a good story for Findings. So she commissioned an indepth story, titled Drugs from Deep Down, that ran in the May issue.

Machalek also took the initiative of suggesting the story to the folks at the museum. She sweetened the pot by pointing them to an NIH program where they could apply for a grant to cover production costs. They applied and got the grant.

“I am very happy with the video. They did a great job with the science and created an accessible narrative,” said Bachmann. In addition to appearing in the exhibit, the video will be used in a high school science education program, he has been told.

Appearing in the natural history museum has special importance to Bachmann. When he was a boy growing up in Connecticut, he and his family were regular visitors.