1. The Monk in the Orchard: a scientist ahead of his time

First historical section, 19th century, devoted to Gregor Mendel and his life, his study of mathematics in Vienna and his discovery of hybridisation. Scientific farming. Sheltered from war and upheaval. He begins his experiments on peas in 1854.

His failed meeting with Darwin in London in 1862. In 1865 he presents his results but no one takes any notice of "Mendel's laws". He sends extracts of his work throughout Europe but receives few replies. His experiments on other plants are a flop. Meteorologist and beekeeper. He is elected abbot in 1868 and is swamped in administrative work. Shortly before his death in 1884, he writes: "my time will come..." And sure enough, it has!


2. A very special gadfly

Second historical section, 20th century, on the birth of genetics. Theories on "mutations". The adventurous rediscovery of Mendel by Hugo de Vries, Karl Correns and von Tschermak in 1900. The Mendelism of William Bateson and Wilhelm Johannsen. Chromosomes are associated with the transfer of Mendelian factors in 1902. Thomas Hunt Morgan's studies on Drosophila. Radiations and mutations. Mendelism and Darwinism. Population genetics: the work of Ronald Fisher, Sewall Wright and J.B.S. Haldane. Modern Synthesis at the end of the 1940s. Biochemical genetics: one gene, one enzyme. The Lysenko affair. Eugenetics in its various formulations.


3. DNA. The story of life

Third section, the heart of the concept, devoted to the molecular structure of the chemical basis of heredity, from 1953 to the genetic code, to the Genome Project, to the problem of the origin of life as the origin of the genetic code and of the mechanisms for the transmission of information. The idea that life is based on the transfer of codified information from one generation to the next, that it can be read like a book and modified. Highlight on DNA plate with X-ray diffraction. The discovery of DNA's double helix structure in 1953. The Nobel prize that crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, who died at the age of 37, did not live to be awarded. The Central Dogma – The regulation of genic expression: Jacob and Monod's operon model. Barbara McClintock and the contributions made by other great researchers. Genetic engineering and sequencing the genome of countless species. The genetics of development. The formidable personality of Frederick Sanger, the winner of two Nobel prizes, a life marked by grief and solitude, but also by exceptional understatement. Escherichia coli. The Human Genome 2000 Project. Post-genomics and "omics". The discovery of "expanded DNA" in May 2014. A DNA with six bases, two of which (x and y) are artificial for the very first time: the way is open for the construction of life.


4. Dolly and the Others: Cloning Hall of Fame

Fourth section, real possibilities and future elan, focusing on biotechnologies and cloning, genetically manipulated organisms, the molecule industry, the production of transgenic organisms. Highlight on Dolly. Fears and opportunities. Transferring genes: recombinant DNA and genetically modified organisms. Nuclear transfer and cloning: the cloned sheep Dolly is born in Edinburgh in 1996 and becomes a superstar. Rumours of her premature death (February 2003). The first mouse, Cumulina, is cloned from adult cells.


5. Thank You Henrietta: medicine made to measure.

Fifth section, peering into the future, focusing on genetic diseases and rare illnesses, using sickle cell anemia as a paradigm, personalised medicine, pharmacogenomics, genic therapies, stem cells, reprogrammed cells (IPC), molecular oncology, the most recent discoveries in the field of epigenetics. Highlight on Henrietta Lacks's "immortal" cells. The extraordinary story of Henrietta Lacks and her cell line. The 2013 agreement on the recognition of her rights and on the memory of this Afro-American woman.


6. DNA & CSI: hunters of fossils and molecules.

Sixth – spectacular – section devoted to archaeogenetics, to ancient DNA, to sequencing the genoma of people long dead, to the use of DNA in police investigations. Insects trapped in amber. Can extinct animals be cloned and brought back to life? And if they can, should they be? Our ancestors' DNA. Neanderthal Man's genome. The genetic evolution of human populations. Possible crosses between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthal Man. Are traces of other species hidden inside our genome? DNA fingerprinting.  DNA at the scene of the crime: techniques for discovering molecular traces of the culprit. Today it is possible to know the culprit's entire genome even before discovering the individual to whom it belongs.


7. Reading the Code, Rewriting the Code: am I really my genome?

Seventh section, focusing on the future,  devoted to genetic diversity and to its implications for our lives, to much-feared genetic determinism and to free will, to the relationship between genes and the environment, to bioengineering and to synthetic biology. Epigenetics. Bringing to life organisms who genome has been synthesised in the laboratory and introducing them into nature in order to get them to do useful jobs (for instance, against pollution). Imaginary new frontier: redesigning life.  Everything under control? Public and private interests. Craig Venter. The fuzzy borderline between the natural and the artificial. Genetically modified organisms. "Expanded DNA" announced in May 2014: we will be able to "build" living organisms. Open questions for visitors.