Outbreak exhibit spotlights Tulane research against epidemics

Tulane University researchers across disciplines have played an important role in fighting infectious disease epidemics around the globe. That storied history has been brought to life in Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World, a new exhibit housed at Tulane SPHTM and co-sponsored by The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The exhibit covers a wide breadth of interdisciplinary research from the university’s founding in 1834 to stop yellow fever to modern advances against other mosquito-borne viruses, HIV, Ebola, and whooping cough.
“From its inception, Tulane has been a leader in the fight against infectious diseases,” said Dr. Laura Levy, vice president of research at Tulane. “This is an opportunity to share that story with those who may not be familiar with some of the groundbreaking advances that have happened right here in New Orleans at Tulane.”

Sabrina Sholtz, curator of biological anthropology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Some of these early achievements include developing the first binocular microscope that allowed viewing through a single lens, used in the first known study of cholera. The exhibit covers New Orleans’ yellow fever epidemic and how Tulane doctors led research efforts to discover what caused the disease — and how to stop it from spreading.

The free exhibit ran from May 1 through July 31 in the Diboll Gallery of the Tidewater Building, 1440 Canal St.

School of Medicine Dean Dr. Lee Hamm, SPHTM Dean Dr. Thomas LaVeist, Sally Baker (BSPH ’05, MD/PhD ’19), Tulane President Mike Fitts, and Tulane Provost Dr. Robyn Forman

MD/PhD graduate student Sally Baker spearheaded research for the project as a young ambassador for the American Society of Microbiology. She worked with Tulane’s Office of Communications and Marketing to design the exhibit. Baker was in the first class of undergraduate public health students.

Death mask of Stanford Chaillé, known as the Father of Hygiene and Health Education

“Today we continue to struggle with epidemics, such as the current measles outbreak. I thought it was important to highlight some of the work that Tulane has done in the field of infectious disease, particularly working to develop better vaccines and prevent outbreaks,” Baker said. “We wanted to bring that knowledge to the public in an exhibit.”

Outbreak is a local edition of a national effort. Last year on the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Great Influenza pandemic, The Smithsonian opened a national exhibit of Outbreak in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the human, animal and environmental factors contributing to infectious disease epidemics.

Learn more by visiting outbreak.tulane.edu.

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