Last week, Georgetown University concluded its participation in Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign established by the Dana Foundation. Every March, members of the science community come together to promote education regarding the research of one of the human body’s most compelling and complex organs, and this week marked BGE's third year of involvement. Monday night, Georgetown students hosted a movie night showcasing the film Memento, where attendees were treated to free pizza. Later in the week, BGE students invited roughly one hundred 7th graders from the local Hardy Middle School, who participated in a 7-station rotation program intended to get the them excited about the brain and science in general, teach them about some ways that brain-research is done, and give them hands-on learning experiences.
But Brain Awareness Week at Georgetown had its finale Thursday night at the American Association for the Advance of Science (AAAS) Auditorium. For the first time ever, BGE students hosted a free-lecture series featuring Georgetown University professors: PhDs Jeffrey Huang, Guinevere Eden, and William Rebeck, each giving a 20-minute TED-style talk regarding their current areas of expertise in neuroscience.
The evening kicked off with Jeffrey Huang, PhD, sharing his insights regarding multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. He explained that given what we currently know about the disease, regenerative medicine multiple sclerosis is a realistic goal. Guinevere Eden, PhD, soon followed Dr. Huang, as she discussed different brain patterns experienced by people when they are reading or learning to read. Dr. Eden continued to describe how these brain analyses would help to both diagnose and treat dyslexia, a neurological learning disability that inhibits literacy. The talks were concluded by William Rebeck’s discussion of Alzheimer’s, explaining how efforts to delay the deterioration of dementia have proven unsuccessful. Rather, his research focuses more on the prevention of Alzheimer’s as opposed to treatment, studying the genetic properties of the disease.
After the lectures, attendees were treated to a time of Q&A and deliciously catered refreshments. While the TED-style talks were targeted for a broader, more general audience, the Q&A very intriguingly created an opportunity for members of the science community (whether they be from academia, industry, or policy) to be able to pick the brains of these renowned Georgetown scholars. Topics covered a spectrum from the specific specialties of these professors, to more general questions that focused on the overall environment of brain research. At the end of the night it seemed the entire audience, whether they were actively practicing scientists, or did not have any real science experience at all, were able to walk away from the event intellectually stimulated.
Overall Brain Awareness Week seemed to be a resounding success, and something to look forward to next March!