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Events on tap to raise awareness about the brain

Feb. 25, 2016, 8:47 AM

March is Brain Awareness Month at Vanderbilt University, and the public is invited to hear national experts discuss their research on autism and other brain disorders.

Ja’Mari Young, 9, examined a human brain during last year’s “Brain Blast” event at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks. (photo by Daniel Dubois)

A popular annual highlight is “Brain Blast,” a half-day of free, hands-on activities for children and adults.

This year’s event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 5, at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, 719 Thompson Lane.

On the first floor of Entrance D, Vanderbilt students and neuroscientists will guide participants as they “build a neuron,” explore brainwaves and touch a real brain.

Brain Awareness Month is sponsored annually by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute to raise awareness about the brain in health and disease. Public events include two neuroscience seminars on the “Brain, Mind and Society,” to be held at 4:10 p.m. in room 1220, Medical Research Building III.

The dates and topics are:

• March 2 — “Autism: Neurochemical and molecular genetic findings,” by Edwin Cook Jr., M.D., director of the Center for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and

• March 23 — “Gestational risk factors for schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder,” by Alan Brown, M.D., MPH, director of the Program in Birth Cohort Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

The Brain Awareness Keynote Lecture will be given on March 31 by Marsha Mailick, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research and graduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her lecture, entitled “Variation in FMR1 (fragile X mental retardation gene) CGG repeats and the impact of parenting children with disabilities,” will begin at 4:10 p.m. in room 241 of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

Three Brain Blast Brown Bag Lectures also will be offered at noon next week in room U-1202, MRB III. They are geared for Vanderbilt staff members who are non-experts but want to learn more about the brain. Dates and topics are:

• Feb. 29 — “Family History of Alzheimer’s Disease: What does it mean?” by Emily Mason, neuroscience graduate student;

• March 1 — “The Mathematical Brain,” by Eric Wilkey, neuroscience graduate student; and

• March 4 — “Wellness and the Brain,” by Nicole Baganz, Ph.D., research instructor.

For more information, contact Beth Sims at or 615-936-3705.

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