Free Successful Aging & Your Brain Program in Maine!

For people in the Greater Portland, Maine area who are interested in learning about the aging brain and living a brain-healthy lifestyle, a Successful Aging & Your Brain program will be held next Thursday, October 27th from 3 to 5 p.m. at the University of New England’s (UNE) Ludke Audirorium at 716 Stevens Ave., Portland.

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BAW Partner Interview: Michael A. Burman

This is the third in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Michael A. Burman, Ph.D., is a an associate professor at the University of New England in Maine, the K-12 outreach coordinator at its Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences, and also a member of the Dana Alliance. 

Burman_MikeThrough the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences (CEN) at the University of New England, you regularly work with students in grades K-12 to encourage interest in STEM disciplines. How do you expand this effort during Brain Awareness Week (BAW)?

This is a great question. We really like doing outreach work. We think it’s important for both local K-12 students’ STEM education and for the long-term viability of our programs. Public support is critical for science and reaching out to the public helps raise awareness of the great things going on at the University of New England (UNE). However, Brain Awareness Week typically falls over our spring break, which makes staffing events somewhat challenging. Thus, we’ve adopted a two-fold approach. First, we engage in year-round outreach. Our 45-50 volunteers make an average of two visits a week to local schools throughout our academic year. These visits can range from a single classroom to seeing an entire 1,400 student school over the course of a day or two. This is really our “bread and butter.” We reached over 4,000 students last year in this way.

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Seeing Pain

From left, Mark Frankel of AAAS, Cindy Steinberg, David Thomas, Edward Bilsky, and David Borsook.]

From left, Mark Frankel of AAAS, Cindy Steinberg, David Thomas, Edward Bilsky, and David Borsook.

Chronic pain affects more than 100 million people in the United States and is a leading cause of suicide as well as an economic drain of more than a half-trillion dollars a year, according to the Institute of Medicine. It’s also one of the “invisible” disorders, like depression, and people who have chronic pain can find themselves misunderstood, shunned, and locked out of the treatment they need. Worse, in many cases, there is no good treatment.

“We really need to accelerate research into the neuroscience and neurobiology of pain,” said activist and chronic-pain patient Cindy Steinberg during a panel discussion on the topic at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

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