Tours of Yale University and Yale School of Medicine

Monday, November 8th, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Varied; see program for departure points.

Science of the spoken and written word: A tour of Haskins Laboratories

Researchers at the historic, 24,000-square-foot Haskins Laboratory collaborate with researchers worldwide, exploring basic and translational questions on speech, language, and reading, and their biological, physiological, and neural underpinnings.

On this tour, see a unique anechoic chamber for making extremely precise measurements of sound; a state-of-the-art robotic jaw manipulation device, used to understand the reciprocal interactions between motor function and sensory processing; the HOCUS system (Haskins Optically Corrected Ultrasound System), which combines Optotrak motion capture with ultrasound imaging of the vocal tract to understand the relationship between speech perception and production; EMA systems (electronic midsagittal articulometers) that capture the movements of the speech articulators, both visible and hidden, including the jaw, tongue, lips, etc., to carefully characterize speech production and examine the differences between normal and disordered speech; the VICON multiple-camera motion capture system, used to study sign language; eye-tracking systems used in projects related to reading, cognition, speech perception, and language acquisition; and neuroimaging facilities that combine multiple technologies (EEG, NIRS, fMRI, etc.) and behavioral measures to study how people learn to read and acquire and use language.

The Haskins also features a small museum that houses, among other things, one of the original “Pattern Playback” speech synthesis machines built in the 1950s. This device was used to learn about the detailed acoustic structure of the speech code, and led to the development of the cues for speech synthesis and recognition.

From living roofs to sustainable shoots: Old Blue goes green

Discover Yale’s sustainable side with a tour of Kroon Hall, the new home of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies that was recently awarded LEED platinum certification and named “Building of the Year” by the Architects’ Journal. Check out Kroon’s solar photovoltaic panels, geothermal heating and cooling system, energy recovering ventilation, and rainwater collection and cleansing pond.

A short walk away is the Yale Farm, a cornerstone of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Learn how the YSFP (its advisory board includes Michael Pollan, Harold McGee, Alice Waters, Corby Kummer, and Jacques Pepin) aims to change the way students, our community, and the nation think about food and agriculture — beginning at the Yale Farm, where you can see (and taste) what we’ve got growing.

Physics, biomechanics and golf

The revolution in low-power microelectronics has enabled the development of electronically enabled golf clubs, radically changing the relationship between the golfer and the club. Join physicist Robert Grober at Yale's Payne Whitney Gymnasium — the second-largest gym in the world — and learn how these intelligent sensor systems provide quantitative measurements of the golf swing using real-time audio biofeedback on the motion of the club.

Discover the new data on the physics and biomechanics of the golf swing that have been gathered through the use of this technology, and try your hand using an electronic club during this interactive workshop.

From DNA to dinosaurs: behind the scenes at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History includes more than 12 million specimens and artifacts, most of which are not on public display. Today, curators, staff, and students continue to collect in 54 countries on all seven continents, and the collections continue to inspire graduate student dissertations and innovative research by Peabody faculty-curators. Recently, the Peabody has invested in developing online resources for accessing specimen-related information to support studies of climate change, conservation biology, and whole earth processes.

A Sterling place for science, plus a home for ticks and tsetses

Dedicated in 1920, Sterling Hall of Medicine, at 333 Cedar St., is the architectural, social, and scientific heart of Yale School of Medicine. On this tour, you will see the medical school's zebrafish facility, where Yale scientists are unlocking the mysteries of vertebrate development and gaining new insight into congenital diseases. In a new collaboration with Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, Yale geneticists are extracting DNA from specimens in the Mutter's extensive collection of developmental anomalies to test genetic hypotheses using homologous genes in zebrafish. Because zebrafish develop rapidly, you may witness changes in the embryo through the microscope during the course of your visit.

At the CINEMA (Cellular Imaging Using New Microscopy Approaches) Lab, Yale cell biologists are using the latest technologies for light microscopy, such as Total Internal Reflection Fluorescent Microscopy (TIRFM) to image very thin planes (<100 nm) so events that occur near the cell surface (e.g., membrane trafficking, the cytoskeleton) can be observed with exquisite clarity. With this approach, the detection of single molecules is possible. A 4D (3D + time) multicolor spinning disk confocal microscopy (SDCM) system allows for live cell imaging of fast-moving dim objects that traverse several focal planes.

Also see the medical school's cryo-electron microscopy facilities, which perform "single-particle" imaging of small membrane-bound molecules such as ion channels, which are difficult to accurately observe with other techniques. Many copies of the sample at random orientations are frozen in an ultra-clear ice-like solid. Computers then analyze the diverse collection of images to extrapolate the molecule's three-dimensional shape.

A short walk will take you to the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health, where Yale researchers are working under tight security on projects that require live vectors infected with human pathogens. Some of the most important diseases affecting global health are transmitted by insects or ticks. On this tour you will see the only laboratory colony of tsetse flies in North America and watch them feed upon blood (donated by a cow), which allows them to reproduce. Dr. Serap Aksoy will explain how her research on these flies will help control African sleeping sickness in Uganda (and potentially many other vector-borne diseases). The building is also home to 10,000 ticks, some of which are infected with the agents of Lyme disease, human babesiosis, and human anaplasmosis. Dr. Durland Fish, a public health entomologist, will explain the tick life cycle and show how the different life stages of ticks are important in the epidemiology of tick-borne diseases. (Insect repellents are not permitted in the building, but be assured that infected vectors will be kept under control at all times.)

A haven for biotech

New Haven has become a lively incubator for biotech companies that are working to bring the fruits of Yale research to the clinic. In the last ten years, Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) has helped Yale scientists to found more than 40 companies that have attracted more than $450 million in financing.

Despite a sputtering economy and a reduction in available venture capital, 2009 alone saw five Yale startups. Join OCR staff on a visit to companies developing compounds and devices for innate immune-system based therapies; regeneration of the injured brain and spinal cord; new classes of rationally designed antibiotics derived from Nobel Prize-winning Yale research to treat resistant diseases; early detection of ovarian cancer, and more.

New uses of PET, and patient-centered care at Smilow Cancer Hospital

PET (positron emission tomography) was a mainstay technique in cognitive neuroscience before the rise of fMRI. But high-resolution PET has many other applications, including drug discovery. Using the latest high-resolution PET scanners to detect the binding of radiolabeled drug compounds in small numbers of subjects, scientists can determine how efficiently drugs are reaching their intended targets in vivo, greatly increasing the odds of success in Phase I clinical trials.

On this tour of the Yale PET Center, you will see a cyclotron encased in a 100,000-pound lead shield filled with water, where atomic particles are accelerated to produce short-lived radioactive isotopes. In adjacent "hot cells" room, radiochemists collect the isotopes and attach them to appropriate molecules, and research participants are imaged using some of the world's highest-resolution PET scanners.

Also visit the brand-new Smilow Cancer Hospital, designed with an explicit commitment to personalized cancer care, which is expected to develop into the most comprehensive cancer care facility in New England. At Smilow, multi-specialty teams of physicians and nurses are mobilized to treat each patient, and are housed together in suites dedicated to treating different forms of cancer. These interdisciplinary teams have easy access to conference rooms where they can view diagnostic-quality images on large screens and interact with local colleagues or, using telemedicine technology, with experts at distant sites. With 500,000 square feet of space, the $467 million hospital boasts amenities that provide a calming atmosphere for patients, families and caregivers, including saltwater aquariums and a rooftop meditation garden with trees and fountains.

Brains and books: The Cushing Collection and the Cushing/Whitney Medical Historical Library

Harvey Cushing, an 1891 Yale College graduate, is one of the most lauded figures in the history of medicine. In diligence, innovation and pure skill, Cushing — father of modern neurosurgery, fine artist and medical illustrator, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Sir William Osler — was the "Babe Ruth of surgery," according to a biographer. Before Cushing, patients routinely bled to death during intracranial surgery, which had a mortality rate approaching 50 percent. Thanks to his innovations, mortality rates plummeted to 10 percent. Cushing also assembled one of the world's most comprehensive collections of brain specimens, and his Brain Tumor Registry is a singular resource in neuro-oncology. At the newly opened Cushing Center, see these brains and hear some of the intriguing stories behind them, as well as viewing Cushing's photographs, drawings, instruments, and memorabilia.

Cushing was also a passionate scholar and bibliophile and collector who donated his entire library to Yale, forming the foundation of the Medical Historical Library, which now includes 130,000 books, bound manuscripts and pamphlets, along with several thousand medical and scientific instruments and weights and measures. See such treasures as the 400-year-old Catoptrum Microcosmicum, in which liftable flaps present a multilayered map of the human body, and the Paneth Codex, an early 14th-century compendium of texts that includes works by Hippocrates, Galen and Avicenna. Also in the collection are 325 medical incunabula, materials produced during the infancy of printing from 1450 to 1500. Items in the collection range from antique gynecologic instruments to 19th-century stereoscopic slides of skin ailments, with a viewer for seeing them in 3D. The collection also includes scores of public health posters in Farsi, Chinese and various Indian languages; 2,000 photographs, from daguerreotypes to modern digital images; and the Fry Collection of prints and drawings of medical and health-related subjects across five centuries.

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Yale West

It is rare that an Ivy League institution has a chance to reinvent itself, but that is exactly what Yale did in 2007 when it bought the Bayer HealthCare complex a few miles away in West Haven. The forested 136-acre site includes 20 buildings with 1.5 million square feet of space, nearly a third of which is in state-of-the-art laboratories. Today, a new type of campus is emerging on the site, one in which boundaries between scientific disciplines are disappearing.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinicians has already used advanced sequencing technology at the Yale Center for Genome Analysis (YCGA) at the West Campus to diagnosis a rare disease in a Turkish infant, the first-ever diagnosis made using comprehensive DNA sequencing of all the protein-coding genes in an individual’s genome. In addition to the YCGA, West Campus will feature a new BioDesign Institute focusing on nanoscale design principles that unite living organisms and synthetic biomaterials; and centers devoted to cancer biology, chemical biology, microbial diversity, and systems biology.

The campus has also become home to many of Yale’s art treasures, and new conservation techniques are being developed to preserve them, and the woodlands and streams of West Campus serve as classrooms where the region’s students learn about ecology. Join Yale’s Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler to learn about the technological, educational, environmental, research, and artistic treasures of West Campus.