National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week: Jan. 23-29

Every year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) creates initiatives to raise awareness about drug and alcohol abuse in the US. Today, until January 29, is officially “National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week,” an annual health observance that links students with scientists and other experts to offset false information about drugs and alcohol that is widely circulated from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music, and friends. Among the many events taking place this week, Thursday the 26th is Chat Day, where students can go online and ask NIDA scientists about drugs and drug abuse.

On December 13, the 2016 results of NIDA’s “Monitoring the Future” (MTF) were released. The annual survey has been tracking drug, alcohol, and cigarette use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders nationwide since 1975. According to the study:

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New Paper: Incorporating Sex Influences into Today’s Brain Research

Historically, most medical research has used male subjects (human and animal) and tissues, but recently there has been a notable increase in the acceptance of the need to incorporate sex influences into brain research. in 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandated that all future biomedical research funded by the agency include sex differences.

But two years after the NIH passed its mandate, the research community continues to debate how best to address sex as a biological variable.

Why not just introduce female subjects to the studies, you might wonder, but it’s not that simple, as Jill Goldstein, director of research at the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains in our new briefing paper:

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Brain Awareness Week 2017: Why Become a Partner?

Brain Awareness Week 2017 (March 13-19) is only a couple of months away, and it is the perfect time to become a Brain Awareness Week partner! Partners participate in the campaign by organizing creative and innovative activities within their communities to educate the public about the brain and the promise of brain research. Many different types of organizations can become partners including K-12 schools, universities, medical and research institutions, professional groups, government agencies, and outreach organizations. Partnership is also geographically diverse, with partners located in more than 45 countries and six continents.

Partners can publicize and share their events on the BAW Calendar of Events and access free resources including event ideas and planning tips, outreach tools, education and science links, and downloadable resources. Partners within the United States can even order free publications and promotional materials to distribute to their audiences. A new video, “Why Become a Brain Awareness Week Partner,” which explains in detail the benefits of becoming a partner, includes interviews with partners and showcases stunning photos submitted by partners around the globe:

You can also find answers to commonly asked questions about Brain Awareness Week on our FAQ page.

– Amanda Bastone

Submissions Due: Design a Brain Experiment Competition

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For students still thinking about submitting a proposal for this year’s Design a Brain Experiment competition, you have just under one week before entries are due! All applicants have until Wednesday, January 11, to send their hypothetical brain experiment to competition@dana.org. Just remember to reference the competition guidelines to be sure all of the requirements are met.

Our scientific advisors will review all submissions after next week, and the winners will be announced during Brain Awareness Week (March 13-19). First and second place winners will receive cash prizes on behalf of their school or sponsoring nonprofit institution.

For any students who missed the chance to submit, not to worry. The Regional Brain Bee is another competition that’s coming up next month. To find a Brain Bee competition near you, use the Brain Awareness Week calendar of events to search your state.

Good luck!

Neuroethics and the BRAIN Initiative

brain-initiative-neuroethicsNeuroscience “is the science that is going to change the way people live, die, and think about themselves,” said Stanford Law professor Hank Greely during the third annual BRAIN Initiative investigators meeting, held in Bethesda, Md., last week. Research into the workings of the brain raises many ethical questions, some common to bioethics and others—such as questions of agency, consciousness, and identity—that are unique to the brain and central nervous system.

Neuroethics has been mentioned from the first public announcement of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative in 2013; a BRAINI workgroup is devoted to the topic. It is one of nine BRAIN Initiative priority funding areas for the coming fiscal year (grant info). At this meeting, a regular session was devoted to the topic, featuring five of the members of the workgroup, and it also came up in other sessions.

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