Press Release

Kelly Mendez (415) 379-5133
Andrew Ng (415) 379-5123

The California Academy of Sciences partners with the Gladstone Institutes to present Brilliant!Science: Decoding Human Health

Five-day biosciences festival brings public together with brightest minds in bioscience
through intimate lectures, evening events and family activities

SAN FRANCISCO (December 12, 2012) – The California Academy of Sciences, in partnership with the Gladstone Institutes, presents Brilliant!Science: Decoding Human Health—a five-day biosciences festival of events, lectures and family-friendly activities designed to increase scientific literacy and public education. The festival runs from January 24-28, 2013.

Throughout the festival, some of the Bay Area’s most brilliant scientists will showcase and discuss pioneering research in human health, from new approaches to combating HIV/AIDS to cutting-edge stem cell research. Festival programming will include intimate conversations, evening events and a weekend of family fun—featuring hands-on activities and appearances by the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Kaiser Permanente’s Community Troupe and more. Brilliant!Science is generously supported by Eva and Bill Price and the Koret Foundation.

The Academy, home to an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum, is an international center for scientific exploration and education and is at the forefront of efforts to understand the biodiversity and sustainability of life on Earth. Gladstone is a leading and independent biomedical-research organization dedicated to solving some of the most devastating medical problems of our time, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS. Gladstone is also the U.S. home to Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, who along with the UK’s Sir John Gurdon, PhD, was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells—a discovery already revolutionizing the fields of science and medicine.

“As the Bay Area’s public stage for science, the Academy is proud to partner with Gladstone to engage and inspire the public with the active bioscience research underway at both institutions,” said Dr. Gregory Farrington, Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences. “Bioscience and biotechnology will drive major changes in science, medicine and technology over the coming decades. The advances being made in these fields are fascinating and critical to our lives.”

A complete listing of Brilliant!Science: Decoding Human Health events below

Thursday, January 24 at 12:00 pm
An Intimate Conversation with Dr. Leor Weinberger, Associate Investigator, Gladstone Institutes
Hosted by Dr. Shannon Bennett, Associate Curator of Microbiology, California Academy of Sciences

We've made substantial progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the past three decades, but the epidemic continues to ravage humankind—especially in the developing world. Everywhere, viruses such as HIV compete with their hosts in an evolutionary ‘arms race’—building resistance to the latest therapies in order to maintain their deadly hold on our species. What if we could turn HIV on its head by hijacking the very virus that ravages the body, and transforming it into a cure? Join HIV expert Dr. Leor Weinberger as he reveals his revolutionary approach to halting the global AIDS epidemic. This special lecture will be hosted by Dr. Shannon Bennett, Associate Curator of Microbiology at the California Academy of Sciences. Tickets are $15 for adults/$5 for Academy and Commonwealth members/$7 for students. Purchase tickets in advance at or by calling (415) 597-6700. This lecture takes place at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor.

Thursday, January 24 from 6:00-10:00 pm

Every Thursday night, music, creatures and cocktails come together for NightLife at the Academy. As part of Brilliant!Science: Decoding Human Health, and in partnership with the Gladstone Institutes, this week’s event features hands-on demonstration stations that allow guests to use microscopes and learn about our microbiomes—the plethora of microbes which colonize our bodies every day. Compare the hearts and brains of animals to those of humans, learn about the latest infectious disease research and step inside a mad scientist photo booth. Academy microbiologist Shannon Bennett will discuss the evolution of the viruses she has spent her career chasing, and expedition medicine expert Dr. Matt Lewin will share fascinating virus case studies. To complement the micro-focus, guests can nibble on bite-sized desserts and sip micro-brewed beers. Music by Grown Kids Radio. This event is for 21+ with valid ID. Tickets are $12 per person/$10 for Academy members. Purchase tickets in advance at or by calling (415) 379-8000. This event takes place at the California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.

Friday, January 25 from 6:00-9:00 pm

Mix and mingle with Academy and Gladstone scientists while exploring the human body as an art form—from brain to bone. The evening’s mingle will feature displays of cutting-edge scientific images from the Gladstone Institutes. Guests can nosh on tacos and beer while viewing body systems highlighted through body painting. Pick the brains of Academy and Gladstone scientists, who will don white lab coats as they chat with guests. Music by DJ B.Smiley (Supperclub SF). Tickets are $25 for adults/$20 for Academy members. Purchase tickets in advance at or by calling (415) 379-8000. This event takes place at Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission Street.

Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27 from 10:00 am–4:00 pm

Discover more about the fascinating world of human health through informative, interactive programs for the whole family. Enjoy live chats with scientists like Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson, authors of How to Defeat Your Own Clone: And Other Tips for Surviving the Biotech Revolution, and more. The Academy’s public floor will host hands-on demonstrations including a close inspection of brain specimens, creating neurons from pipe cleaners and lessons on the life of an infectious virus. Guests will also be able to search the human microbiome of bacteria and harmless mites. Appearances by the Bay Area Children’s Theatre and Kaiser Permanente’s Community Troupe, along with special guests, will entertain families all weekend long. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. For more, visit or call (415) 379-8000.

Conversations on Science

Monday, January 28 at 7:30 pm
An Intimate Conversation with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center
Hosted by Thomas Goetz, Executive Editor, WIRED
At the age of 37, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor had a massive stroke and watched as her brain functions—motion, speech, memory, linear thinking and self-awareness—shut down one by one. After a long and successful rehabilitation, she has become a spokesperson for the possibility of full recovery from brain injury. In her best-selling book My Stroke of Insight, Taylor chronicles her recovery as well as her personal study of perception as it differs between left brain processing and right brain experiencing. Taylor is the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center and is an active member and supporter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Taylor will be in conversation with Thomas Goetz, executive editor of WIRED and author of The Decision Tree: A Manifesto for Personal Health. Tickets are $22-27 for adults/$20-25 for Academy members. Price dependent on seating area. Purchase tickets in advance online at or by calling (415) 392-4400. This event takes place at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness Avenue.