From left, Michael Sheridan, Shirley Sheridan, Vishwanath Rao and Doug Ziedonis
Forty students from 18 high schools met at UMass Medical School for the 11th Annual Central Massachusetts Regional Brain Bee on Saturday, Feb. 11, hosted by the Department of Psychiatry at UMMS. Vishwanath Rao, a student from Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, won the competition, earning the Andrew M. Sheridan Young Neuroscientist Award from Doug Ziedonis, MD, MPH, chair and professor of psychiatry. The Psychiatry Department will send Rao, accompanied by a parent, to compete at the National Brain Bee in Baltimore in March.
Sheldon Benjamin, MD, professor of psychiatry and neurology, and director of the Central Massachusetts Regional Brain Bee, served as master of ceremonies. A nationwide program created by the Society for Neuroscience, the competition is meant to bolster high school student interest in medical and laboratory neuroscience careers. The participating students took a 25-question written exam, identified 10 areas on brain models and provided a diagnosis for five patient actors. Caridad Ponce Martinez, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, gave a brief talk to the students on how opioids affect the brain. David Cochran, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, and neuropsychiatry resident Kathy Niu, MD, served as the judges.
Volunteers, including residents from the psychiatry, neurology and neuropsychiatry residency programs, UMMS medical students, Graduate School of Biomedical Science graduate students, staff and faculty, ran the event. Shirley and Michael Sheridan, parents of the late Andrew Sheridan, for whom the Young Neuroscientist Award is named, volunteered at the registration table as they have done for many years. The Central Massachusetts Brain Bee Advisory Board includes Drs. Benjamin and Ziedonis; Robert H. Brown, Jr., DPhil, MD; Vivian Budnik, PhD; Kensuke Futai, PhD; Jean A. King, PhD; and David R. Weaver, PhD.