On March 15-21, 2021, organizations, institutions, and individuals around the world celebrated Brain Awareness Week, a “global campaign to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science.” This annual event is organized by the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that uses research grants and public outreach to promote knowledge about the brain and brain health. During Brain Awareness Week, partners around the world organize activities in their communities to educate and engage professionals and the public, sharing research about how the brain works, how brain science impacts our everyday lives, and how scientists are furthering their understanding of the brain.
Celebrating Brain Awareness Week
The Dana Foundation provides a wealth of resources online for participants, including event ideas, event planning tips, outreach tools, community neuroscience videos, fact sheets, and lesson plans for educators. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants were encouraged to host Brain Awareness Week events online to ensure the health and safety of organizers and their audiences. In some cases, this allowed organizers to reduce their costs and reach a wider audience.
Around the world, participants promoted neuroscience in a variety of ways, from seminars and workshops to the presentation of groundbreaking research. The following are a few examples:
The Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN)
In India, the Centre for Cognitive and Brain Sciences at IITGN hosted a week of events to educate a range of people in their community, from high school students to neuroscience researchers. The celebration included panel discussions, workshops, competitions, and more. One of the highlights of the celebration was a virtual panel titled “Neuroethics and AI in the Global Context,” which revolved around neuroethics and concerns surrounding emerging artificial intelligence technologies.
Lewy Body Ireland (LBI)
Lewy Body Ireland (LBI) aimed to raise awareness of Lewy body disorder, a progressive brain condition that is the second most common form of dementia. The organization is currently developing a website to increase understanding of Lewy body disorder and to provide a forum for education for the public and professionals. The website will be launched this summer.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Pew-funded scientists discussed their investigations into the causes of brain diseases, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease (PD):
- A 2018 Pew biomedical scholar, Kassandra Ori-McKenney, and her team discovered that the protein DYRK1a may boost the ability of another protein, GSK-3 beta, to alter Tau, an assembly of proteins that affect the body’s ability to recover after a traumatic brain injury.
- A 2016 Pew Latin American fellow, Guilherme A.P. de Oliveira, and his team explored the initial clustering of misfolded proteins, which are associated with PD.
- A 2018 Pew scholar, José A. Rodriguez, developed new ways to investigate protein structures such as amyloid proteins, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Although this year’s Brain Awareness Week has ended, it’s never too early to begin planning for next year’s event. Explore the Brain Awareness Week website to get started.
QPS Neuropharmacology is a division of QPS, a GLP/GCP-compliant contract research organization (CRO) delivering the highest grade of discovery, preclinical, and clinical drug development services since 1995. QPS Neuropharmacology focuses on preclinical studies related to central nervous system (CNS) diseases, rare diseases, and mental disorders. With highly predictive disease models available on site and unparalleled preclinical experience, QPS Neuropharmacology can handle most CNS drug development needs for biopharmaceutical companies of all sizes. For more information about QPS, visit www.qps.com, and for more information about QPS Neuropharmacology, visit www.qpsneuro.com.