This Monday will be the official global kickoff of the Brain Awareness Week campaign (March15-21) spearheaded by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and European Dana Alliance for the Brain in conjunction with local chapters of the Society for Neuroscience, the largest professional non-profit organization with over 40,000 neuroscientist members and supporters worldwide!
Every March of each year, BAW promotes a massive educational campaign to unite the efforts of universities, other foundations, hospitals, clinics, schools, government agencies and service organizations to help enhance brain awareness and educate the public on brain related diseases, brain health and function.
On its fifteen year, local SFN chapters organize BAW events using a multitude of strategies around the country to promote education and enhance awareness which includes but it is not limited to using the following methods:
1. Organizing tours for young adults and children to neuroscience laboratories, museums and neuroscience related organizations in your city.
2. Organizing a spelling bee contest related to neuroscience terminology for children. Of course, as with any contest, incentives must be provided in order to ensure a high turn-out for the event. For instance, spelling bee winners should be rewarded with cash prizes, educational neuroscience related material and gift certificates.
3. Encouraging scientists to participate in the neuroscientist-teacher partner program, a program that allows neuroscientists to coordinate with K12 teachers to lecture and educate students about the importance of health in brain function and neurodegenerative diseases in the classroom.
4 Other creative activities that leading neuroscientists can perform during BAW includes delivering. lectures on a variety of brain-related topics, arranging a display at malls, organize a fun and interactive workshops at middle-school and high-schools, and among other activities.
5. Finally there are a variety of on-line resources and tools that is provided by both the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiative and Society for Neuroscience which include brain plastic props, brain jig-saw puzzles, flyers, and among other things upon request. Finally, there are a variety of interactive online learning websites to assist educators and BAW organizers which include the "The Nerve" along with other K12 educational materials, the Brain Core Concepts, the Brain Facts official publication sponsored by SFN and media kits to disseminate the information of local events. The latter major publications are a compendium of the most cutting edge and up-to-date information on the physiology and function of the brain and includes many trivial interesting neuro-facts.
6. There are a variety of brain games and interactive exercises sponsored by the University of Washington designed to help raise brain awareness and education for children under 12. These instructional online sites can be setup and facilitated to students on computer labs at various elementary schools for children during BAW!
There is a local SFN chapter in Pittsburgh which organizes BAW events every year. The major theme for this year's BAW events are focused on raising awareness on autism spectrum related disorders.
For instance, the Pilot Club of Pittsburgh is organizing an elegant and unique BAW poster event for children under 12 years.
For more information on local events happening around the area and for participating at local events please contact the following person
Edda Thiels, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Why care about BAW?
Due to its rising aging population, Pittsburgh is one of the major urban populations in the United States that contains a higher than average incidence, mortality and morbidity rates for neurodegenerative diseases which include Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's disease, Lewy body spectrum diseases and less common neurodegenerative diseases such as Pick's diseases and frontotemporal dementia.
Indeed, Alzheimer's is very prevalent in Pittsburgh more than any other neurodegenerative disease. Generally, the age of onset of Alzheimer's disease is around 60-65 years of age, although there are familial manifestations of the disease which can lead to a much earlier age of onset. This disease affects an estimated 26.6 million people worldwide. In Pennsylvania alone, there are about 250,000- 500,000 human beings afflicted by this devastating disease with a mortality rate of 3,000 persons a year. On the upside, there is a 0-25% projected increase in the number of Alzheimer's disease cases in the state of Pennsylvania by 2025 compared to other states that will see a much rapid rise of Alzheimer's disease cases.
However, the University of Pittsburgh, UDall Center for Parkinson's disease, Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and other institutes in the Western Pennsylvania area promote cutting edge neurobiology/neuroscience related research to help understand and find cures for these diseases.