Collaboration, partnerships and a green approach unite to create The AstraZeneca Human Edge

Toronto (December 4, 2013) – Collaboration, strategic partnerships and a commitment to “go green” all came together to make the Ontario Science Centre’s new permanent AstraZeneca Human Edge exhibition hall possible. This immersive new exhibition explores the wonders and possibilities of the human body through more than 80 exhibits. The Science Centre’s multi-disciplinary exhibition development team reached out to scientific experts who shared research and ideas critical to the exhibition’s creation. Financial support came from partners in government and corporate Canada, including the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, AstraZeneca Canada, and Sun Life Financial. The AstraZeneca Human Edge opens to the public on December 7 and is free with general admission.

Collaboration with Scientists and Athletes

Partnerships shaped The AstraZeneca Human Edge in many ways during the 18 months of research, development and testing by the team led by Dr. Mary Jane Conboy, the Ontario Science Centre’s Director of Science Content and Design.

Dr. Conboy and her team reached out to world-class science experts like Toronto geneticist Dr. Xiao-Yan Wen, St. Michael’s Hospital, who is unlocking genetic clues to life with the help of colonies of zebra fish. Dr. Wen and his team donated glowing zebra fish that will live in a giant specially-made tank to demonstrate how humans inherit traits from their parents.

Toronto Western Hospital researcher Dr. Charles Tator, who studies concussion disorders and the effectiveness of injury prevention programs, contributed to exhibits that explore pushing past the human body’s limits.

Other inspiring collaborators include athletes and adventure-seekers who have the knowledge, training and a mind-body connection that makes pushing limits possible. One such athlete is Canadian Mandy-Rae Cruickshank Krack, a world-renowned freediving champion, who can descend to depths of 88 metres without a scuba tank on a single breath of air and come safely to the surface again. Krack shares her story with visitors inside the immersive ocean experience of the Single Breath exhibit.

The AstraZeneca Human Edge was conceived, researched, designed and built by the Ontario Science Centre team,” said Dr. Hooley McLaughlin, Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Ontario Science Centre. “I am very proud that the talented staff who created this exhibition, collaborating extensively with scientists and other experts to bring the public the most engaging and scientifically accurate experience possible.”

Partnerships with Sponsors

The extensive scale and scope of The AstraZeneca Human Edge exhibition hallwas only made possible through strong support from corporate partners, including Naming Sponsor AstraZeneca Canada and Diabetes Awareness Partner Sun Life Financial. Both organizations, along with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, share the Ontario Science Centre’s commitment to lifelong learning and inspiring future generations of Canadians.

One exhibit area of The AstraZeneca Human Edge reaches back into Canadian medical history in order to understand the challenges of the future. Original items from the Banting & Best Laboratory building at the University of Toronto are on display in Banting & Best’s Laboratory, anexhibit detailing the discovery, research, diagnosis, and prevention of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The Canadian Diabetes Association reports that one in four Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

“We’re delighted to support this new exhibition hall at the Ontario Science Centre to raise awareness about diabetes,” said Mary De Paoli, Executive Vice-President, Public & Corporate Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial. “This exhibit will recreate the original laboratory where Dr. Banting and Dr. Best discovered insulin in 1921 and give visitors a chance to learn more about Canadian leadership in diabetes research that Sun Life continues to support today."

A Green Approach

More than a year ago, Dr. Conboy and her team challenged themselves to make The AstraZeneca Human Edge as environmentally sustainable as possible, from design to fabrication and beyond. Visitors to The AstraZeneca Human Edge will see and feel exhibits made with Forest Stewardship Council Canada-certified wood, latex-saturated paper, reclaimed wood, organic milk paint, water-based finishes, recycled felt, and durable carpeting made from recycled plastic bottles.

“Here we were, dealing head-on with cutting-edge research about the human body and how to make it accessible science,” said Dr. Conboy. “We said to ourselves – why can’t we deal with the one of the most important issues in science? The environment. It took research and thinking in new ways. We challenged ourselves – pushed our limits, just like a lot of the stories in The AstraZeneca Human Edge – to think in new, sustainable ways and be as environmentally gentle as possible from origins, to construction, to the future life of the exhibition.”