University students cram craniums for Brain Bowl

San Antonio (April 22, 2004) – If you like “Jeopardy!” on TV and the workings of the brain, an upcoming event will be right up your intellectual alley. It’s also free and open to the public, so it will fit in with your entertainment budget.

The fifth “Brain Bowl” at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will pit three teams of college students at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27. The location is room 209L of the Medical School building, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive in the South Texas Medical Center. The Brain Bowl is a quiz show testing the mettle of undergraduate neuroscience whizzes. This year’s competitors are coming from Trinity University in San Antonio, Southwestern University in Georgetown and Baylor University in Waco. Baylor is the defending champion.

Brain Bowl questions range from relatively easy to very difficult, covering fields of neuroscience research including (1) neurophysiology, (2) neuroanatomy, (3) neurochemistry, (4) drugs and the brain, and (5) the brain and behavior, said David Morilak, Ph.D., the organizer, coordinator and emcee of the event. Dr. Morilak, associate professor of pharmacology at the Health Science Center, created the first Brain Bowl on campus several years ago.

“Students have to buzz in just like on TV, so speed and knowledge count,” he said.

A free reception with finger foods and soft drinks will immediately follow. The reception is an opportunity for undergraduate students interested in neuroscience to network with prominent neuroscientists at the Health Science Center. The students’ faculty mentors also are invited to attend.

Sponsored for the first time by the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience (CBN) at the Health Science Center and the university’s department of pharmacology, the Brain Bowl is the centerpiece of Brain Awareness Week outreach activities conducted by local members of the Society for Neuroscience.

Judges this year are Drs. Larry Parsons of the Health Science Center’s Research Imaging Center; Julie Hensler and Bill Clarke, department of pharmacology; Mary Vaughan, department of cellular and structural biology; and Mark Shapiro, department of physiology, all members of the CBN.

Dr. Morilak compiled all the questions with extensive input from CBN members. A number of other faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and research staff have volunteered to serve as timekeepers, scorekeepers and runners.

“It takes a lot of muscle to put on a Brain Bowl,” Dr. Morilak said.

A stunning loving-cup trophy, the actual “Brain Bowl,” will be presented to the winning team to display at its institution for one year, and prizes will be given to all participants. “Everyone wins at the Brain Bowl,” Dr. Morilak said.

The event is made possible by support from Bioindustrial Products, Fisher Scientific, VWR and the National Society for Neuroscience, in addition to the CBN.

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