All Aboard: Genomics Travel

Ok, I’m going to admit it–I do geeky vacation travel. I would rather work an archaeological dig than go to Disneyland by far. There are several Earthwatch trips that I really want to do. That dig in Tuscany…ah…ahem…. Sorry: back to my topic. There is a woman I read about in my local paper who is working on a travel guide for “the history of genetics and genomics.” Dr. Diana Bianchi, a respected researcher who has demonstrated that fetal blood cells persist in the mom (think about what that might to to your SNP array experiments) is visiting sites of importance to genetic research. Public sites that geeky travelers like me could visit. I’m all over this book. And since she’s nearby I am expecting to hear about a book signing someday! Will keep an eye out for that.

I actually did do an Earthwatch trip once–I went on Medicinal Plants of Antiquity with Dr. Alain Touwaide and Emanuela Appetiti (a story about them, with a photo at the link). We went to the National Library in Rome and examined books that were hundreds of years old. I saw some marginalia from researchers of the past–just amazing–almost like a 500 year old blog post, rather…. Photos from another group can be seen examining the texts here that will give you a sense of the location and the work. Dr. Touwaide got a major NIH grant to do a database of these medicinal plants. From the American Historical Association’s notice:

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $1.2 million grant to Alain Touwaide (Smithsonian Institution) to pursue a research entitled “Medicinal Plants of Antiquity: A Computerized Database.” The research will be conducted over the years 2004–08 in the Department of Botany at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington D.C. It aims at: (a) computerizing the texts of classical antiquity on the therapeutic uses of plants (Greek and Latin original text), (b) translating them into English, (c) databasing the material (original texts and English translation), (d) providing data from the primary sources with the relevant explanations for a good understanding, and (e) making all such material available through a web site.

and I’m looking at the list of databases at the Smithsonian site to find it but I can’t locate it right now. I’m going to write to see if I can find out if it is available yet.