Buck Institute Opens New Learning Center

Public events on April 20 will feature hands-on activities and art exhibit

April 10, 2013 / Novato, CA: When school buses pull up at the Buck Institute the kids will finally have a place to go. Funded by a $500,000 gift from Buck Trustee Larry Rosenberger and his wife Diane, the new 1,400 square foot Learning Center will provide a fully-equipped demonstration and training space for K-12 students, summer interns, master’s students and lifelong learners. The public is invited to explore the new facility on Saturday April 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Institute will also open a new “Scientist as Artist” exhibit  that same day.

The new Learning Center is long awaited. During the past decade, dozens of bioscience teachers have attended continuing education seminars with no dedicated space for activities. School children have been crowded into conference rooms set up as makeshift laboratories. In 2012 more than 1,700 students came through the Institute’s doors to participate in field trips and after-school and weekend programs. That number does not include the 1,000 visitors who attended last year’s open house.

The Rosenberger gift paid to construct and equip the new Learning Center and provided programmatic support for its start up. Trustee Rosenberger said providing access to high quality education is one of the pillars of the couple’s philanthropic strategy. “We knew there were no funds in the operating budget to pay for the expansion of the Buck’s educational programs, yet it was obvious there was superb talent with great ideas ready to move forward,” said Rosenberger, the former President and CEO of Fair Isaac, a pioneering credit score company now known as FICO. “Once we understood the goals of the program and knew how much CEO Brian Kennedy was focused on educational outreach and growth, the new center became an obvious focal point for our support.”

“Our mission is to extend healthspan through research and education,” said Brian K. Kennedy, PhD, Buck Institute President and CEO. “This new Learning Center will be at the core of our efforts to train the next generation of researchers and to provide information about our work to the general public. I am extremely grateful to the Rosenberger’s for their support,” he said.  “Their gift will have a lasting impact on the Institute, I welcome the general public to enjoy this new center on April 20.”

The public is invited to visit the new Learning Center from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on April 20. Activities will focus on most of the model organisms used in Buck research -- stem cells, yeast, worms, water bears and fruit flies. Participants will get hands-on experience doing DNA analysis and will receive materials to take home (including “glow in the dark” slime). Middle-school children and their parents will be able to sign up for “Science of the Past/Present/Future” – a weekend and after-school science program that will be offered in May.

A new “Scientist as Artist” exhibit of 20 large-scale images created by Buck Institute scientists will also open on April 20. The images, inspired by research aimed at extending healthspan, will be displayed in the Institute’s I.M. Pei-designed atrium. Sixty-five scientists submitted images for consideration. A jury selected 20 that best revealed lab artistry for display. Many of the scientists who won the competition will be on hand to explain their science.  The exhibition is co-presented with the City of Novato Parks, Recreation and Community Department.

About the Buck Institute for Research on Aging 
The Buck Institute is the U.S.’s first and foremost independent research organization devoted to Geroscience – the study of the connection of normal aging and chronic disease. Based in Novato, California, the Buck is dedicated to extending “healthspan”, the healthy years of human life and does so utilizing a unique interdisciplinary approach involving laboratories studying the mechanisms of aging and those focused on specific diseases. Buck scientists strive to discover new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke. In their collaborative research, they are supported by the most recent developments in genomics, proteomics, stem cell technology, and bioinformatics. For more information: www.thebuck.org.

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