Science museum to showcase health innovation on Saturday

dblustein@newsobserver.comJune 13, 2013 

What in the world is an “axolotl”? Unless you’re a fan of amphibians, you probably don’t know about this superhero salamander whose name only scientists can pronounce.

But this Saturday at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, you can find out how doctors are using this animal’s limb regeneration abilities to inspire medical treatments in humans.

The animal is just one part of “Innovations in Health Day,” a large lineup of presentations, exhibits and hands-on activities that organizers say should make for an engaging and entertaining family event.

The event will highlight cutting-edge medical treatments and the “diversity of types of care providers we have in our community,” said Dr. William Goodnight of UNC-Chapel Hill. At the event, he will share his pioneering efforts in using fetal surgery to treat babies before birth.

The first-of-its-kind event at the museum is part of its effort to share science and its impact with Triangle residents. These efforts have expanded since the opening of the Nature Research Center last year, said the museum’s Kari Wouk.

Dr. Ben Walker of Rex Healthcare hopes to convince kids to be more active.

“You don’t necessarily have to follow the idea of going to the gym. … Exercise can be split up throughout the day,” said Walker, who will present at the event with Carolina Hurricanes athletic trainer Peter Friesen.

The two will share unique approaches to infusing exercise into increasingly sedentary lifestyles, including commercial-break jumping jacks and calorie-tracking mobile device apps.

There will be plenty of hands-on activities for the Triangle’s future doctors to hone their skills. Youngsters will get a lesson in radiology by examining cotton swab skeletons they create at the X-Ray Craft station. And tomorrow’s surgeons can try their hand using laparoscopic tools at Rex Healthcare’s tummy cage, a life-size version of the popular “Operation” game.

And don’t forget to visit the Animals of Biotechnology station to see the amazing axolotl salamander alongside a range of other unique and colorful creatures.

Blustein: 919-829-4627

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