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Society for Neuroscience awards Brain Bee founder for outstanding contribution to education

The Society for Neuroscience awarded its outstanding educator award to Norbert Myslinski, PhD, for his contribution to public education and awareness of neuroscience topics.

Myslinski, a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, came up for the idea for the Brain Bee, an international neuroscience competition for high school students, in 1995 when the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives established the Brain Awareness Week. The competition is held each year and serves to motivate young students to pursue careers in neuroscience. The 175 Brain Bee chapters are located in 50 different countries across 6 continents.

A history of neurological disorders in Myslinski’s family motivated him to commit to fortifying the pool of up-and-coming neuroscience researchers. His wife died of a brain tumor and his father, who had Guillain-Barré syndrome, died of a stroke. One of his brothers has a spinal cord injury and his mother has Alzheimer’s disease.

"Early in my career I realized that finding cures for these disorders needed not only funds, but also a steady stream of young dedicated scientists. In the last century, neuroscience was not a priority in our schools and society, so I made it my priority," says Dr. Myslinski.

The first Brain Bee competition was held at the University of Maryland in 1998. The following year Myslinski contacted 12 other Brain Awareness Week directors and formed an international Brain Bee network. In addition to the promotion of neuroscience education, Brain Bee also brings together students from all over the world in promotion of global unity.

"When I see a young girl working at a desk with an Israeli flag in front of her and next to her is a young boy with an Iranian flag in front of him, I realize we could be laying the framework for peace and cooperation in the future," describes Myslinski

The Brain Bee Organization has also created other groups such as the Brain Bee Alumni Club to unite competition winners and the International Youth Neuroscience Association that publishes a monthly journal by and for students. Myslinski’s idea seems to be serving its purpose considering that a recent Brain Bee survey showed that 75% of Brain Bee participants said the organization influenced their course of study. Many are now studying to become neurologists, neuroscientists, or neuro-engineers.

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