Medical Museum To Explore Neuroscience With D.C.-Area Middle School Students During Brain Awareness Week 2014

March 5, 2014, Silver Spring, Md.: From building models of neurons to learning how working with dogs eases the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, Washington, D.C.,-area students will learn about the brain through hands-on activities during the National Museum of Health and Medicine’s (NMHM) annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW) program in March 2014.

Nearly 1000 middle school students will take part in the 15th annual event to learn about traumatic brain injuries, brain anatomy and more. Brain Awareness Week at NMHM is presented in conjunction with the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.

"Inspiring a new generation of brain researchers or clinicians interested in treating brain injuries is what BAW is all about," said Adrianne Noe, NMHM director. "Engagement in the manner that BAW offers to student participants—hands on activities, opportunities to talk directly with leading researchers in brain sciences—may be a major factor in encouraging young people to consider science and medicine as career paths."

"Brain Awareness Week at NMHM also highlights the attention that is being paid to this issue by the Department of Defense and the military services," said Noe. "DoD is actively addressing research to improve diagnosis and treatments as well to develop new protective technologies to deter brain injuries in the future."

"Brain injuries affect so many families in this country, both military and civilian." said Andrea Schierkolk, NMHM public program manager and BAW coordinator. "People of all ages engaged in athletics, recreational activities, or serving our country are wearing helmets, or not, and families everywhere are discussing how to help loved ones dealing with a brain injury or disease. Brain Awareness Week makes those topics accessible to our student participants."

The Department of Defense (DoD) has a demonstrated commitment to traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Proper management of TBI cases has become a military medical standard of care and is returning injured service members with mild TBIs back to active duty in just days. DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs are engaged in a $100 million research initiative to improve diagnosis and treatment of mild TBIs. The U.S. Army also recently teamed up with the National Football League to improve awareness of TBI and increase research into its causes, prevention and treatment. NMHM is a headquarters element of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

NMHM’s Brain Awareness Week activities take place over the course of five days—March 10-14, 2014—in the Museum’s lobby and galleries. After a brief introductory talk on a related topic, students will rotate through hands-on activity stations to learn about different brain functions, influences on the brain and brain disorders. Those activity stations are managed by NMHM’s Partners in Education (listed below). BAW programs are not open to the public.

NMHM Partners in Education for the 2014 Brain Awareness Week:

Background on Brain Awareness Week:

  • National Brain Awareness Week programs were first established by the Dana Alliance in 1996, linking scientists, clinicians, journalists and other educators in an annual effort to raise public awareness about the brain and brain science. In 2000, Dana joined forces with NMHM to develop a program designed especially for middle school students. Brain Awareness Week has helped instill a sense of excitement of science, while bringing awareness and understanding of current research and its translation into clinical practice to young audiences.

Traumatic Brain Injury Exhibit:

  • In May 2012, NMHM opened a new exhibit focused on traumatic brain injuries. The installation showcases actual human brain specimens that demonstrate a variety of brain injuries, including hemorrhages, blunt force trauma and bullet wounds. Many of the specimens featured in the exhibit have never been on display. Also included in the exhibit are medical and surgical tools used to diagnose and treat TBIs, and devices such as video games and acupuncture needles used in the rehabilitation of patients with brain injuries.

Media Availability:

  • Media representatives are invited to cover Brain Awareness Week activities. Advance notice is required. Contact Tim Clarke, NMHM Deputy Director for Communications, at (301) 319-3349.


About the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives:

The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a nonprofit organization of more than 300 leading neuroscientists, is committed to advancing public awareness about the progress and promise of brain research and to disseminating information on the brain in an understandable and accessible fashion. Supported entirely by the Dana Foundation, the Dana Alliance does not fund research or make grants.