The 2010 National Brain Bee competition at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) began with a call out to Star Trek's Capt. Kirk and closed with new U.S. champion Yvette Leung set to go boldly to the 11th annual International Brain Bee competition in San Diego.
The Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition for high school students.
Thirty-six regional champions from around the country competed at UMB and the National Institutes of Health on March 19 and 20, during Brain Awareness Week. To advance to the USA Championship, Yvette, who is from Jericho High School in Brookville, N.Y., had already captured the regional Long Island University Brain Bee competition.
For winning the national title, Yvette receives a scholarship, a laboratory internship with a prominent neuroscientist, and the honor to represent the United States in the International Brain Bee. She will be competing against other national champions from countries such as Australia, India, Uganda, Romania, Canada, and New Zealand.
As Yvette and 35 regional champions and their adult guardians assembled at UMB, Brain Bee founder Norbert Myslinski, PhD, immediately asked "How did Capt. James Kirk begin each episode of Star Trek?" One mother spoke up, "Space, the final frontier."
"I don't believe it," said Myslinski, an associate professor in neural and pain sciences at the University of Maryland Dental School. "The final frontier is neurology," said Myslinski. "We have been doing this for the past 50 years, yet we are still going where no man or woman has gone before."
Myslinski continued, "We are at war. It's not a war with bullets, but one with test tubes and laboratory instruments. We need good men and women to help us learn about and fight paralysis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, blindness, deafness, multiple sclerosis, stroke, epilepsy, spasticity, neuromuscular disease, and more. We need you."
According to the Society for Neuroscience Web site, "the next 10 years should be a decade of breakthrough discovery in neuroscience and breakthrough translation of scientific advances to improve the health of people everywhere."
Frank Margolis, PhD, professor of anatomy and neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, implored the young students to keep studying the brain and the central nervous system. "People come into my lab every day asking embarrassing questions and we look at each other and say 'Oh, my, why didn't we think of that!' There is so much more to learn."
Tied for second in the USA Championship were Luckmini Liyanage from Boston, Mass. and Ashwin Amurthur from Newark, N.J. Tied for fourth place were Omar Shahrior of San Diego, and Clifford He of Detroit.
Myslinski said the students were tested on material that is comparable to that of a second-year medical student. It included a neuroanatomy laboratory practical with human brains, patient diagnosis with patient actors, a microscope test with neurohistological tissues, interpretation of MRI brain images, a written test and an oral component.
He founded the International Brain Bee 12 years ago "to motivate young men and women to learn about the brain, and inspire them to consider careers in basic and clinical neurosciences." Myslinski says, "We need them to treat and find cures for the more than 1,000 neurological and psychological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, autism, and addictions."
For more information, visit www.internationalbrainbee.com or contact brainbee@gmail,com or firstname.lastname@example.org.