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4th Annual Toronto Brain Bee 2002

The Program in Neuroscience and Dept. of Physiology once again hosted a neuroscience competition for High School students on Friday afternoon, February 8, 2002. Thirty-one students from 13 different Toronto schools took part in this oral competition modeled after a "spelling bee". The first place winner was Marvin Chum from Earl Haig Secondary School, second prize went to Rahil Malik also from Earl Haig Secondary School and in third place was Julian Tam from the University of Toronto Schools. The winner of our local contest, Marvin Chum, will take part in the International Brain Bee competition organized by the University of Maryland in Baltimore from March 15-17 where the winners from 29 other local University-sponsored competitions will be participating. Prizes for the International Brain Bee will again be $3000 for first place, $2000 for second place, and $1000 for third place. Many thanks to Drs. Karen Davis and Mary Pat McAndrews for running the competition and graduate students Donna Addis (Psychology), Geoffrey Caines (Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology), Valerie Caraiscos (IMS), Chun Kwan (IMS), Beatrice Setnik (Pharmacology), Deborah Siegal (Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology) and Jacky Yeung (IMS) for their assistance. We would also like to thank the PIN graduate students for participating in the student presentation part of the day. The addition of these talks this year added another dimension to the day. The talks were all very impressive and exposed the high school students to some cutting edge neuroscience research.

Canadian Wins International Brain Bee!

March 18, 2002

Baltimore, MD --

Perfection. Marvin Chum, a high school student from [Earl Haig Secondary School in] Toronto, received a perfect score in the finals of the Fourth Annual International Brain Bee (IBB) this weekend at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. It was a hard fought battle between him and Vikas Gupta from New York. After 20 rounds of questioning, all other competitors were eliminated. Marvin and Vikas then continued to battle it out for another 30 rounds before Marvin prevailed.

The IBB is a live, on-stage Q & A neuroscience competition for high school students. Competitors are tested on their knowledge of the brain, including such topics as intelligence, emotion, consciousness, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, aging, sensations, stress, movement, touch, brain imaging, and brain disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, addiction, depression, epilepsy, autism, and mental retardation. A human neuroanatomy laboratory practical and a preliminary session eliminated all except five who went on to the finals.

To qualify for the IBB Championship, the competitors were required to win one of the 23 local brain bee competitions that were held this winter across North America.

Marvin received a $3000 scholarship and the right to be called the "Best Brain." His school received the traveling IBB trophy. The other three finalists were Spencer Bachow, Mia Kazanjian and Julianne McCall.

Not only does Marvin have brains, he also has honesty and integrity. When the judges made a mistake and declared one of Vikas's answers wrong, Marvin made a point to correct the judges for the benefit of his opponent.

As part of the three-day event, the competitors traveled to and were honored at the National Institutes of Health, the National Library of Medicine, and the annual convention of the American Pain Society. The competitors also toured the University of Maryland's neuroscience laboratories, brain imaging facilities and Davidge Hall, the oldest medical school building in continuous operation in the United States.

Dr. Norbert Myslinski is a neuroscientist and the Founder and Director of The International Brain Bee. The IBB occurs during Brain Awareness Week, which is spearheaded by the Society for Neuroscience and the DANA Alliance for Brain Initiatives. Brain Awareness Week is an effort by brain scientists to educate the public about the importance of brain research.

Our knowledge of the brain has more than doubled during the Decade of the Brain. According to Dr. Myslinski "We need to increase the public understanding of brain disorders, their appreciation of brain research, and their ability to apply this new knowledge to their daily lives.

"The International Brain Bee is an attempt to motivate our youth to learn about the brain, capture their imagination, and inspire them to pursue careers in biomedical brain research. We need their energy and their passion to fight and win the war against mental retardation, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and other brain disorders."

[This is the second time that the winner of the University of Toronto Brain Bee has gone on to win the International Brain Bee in Maryland. David Alpay from Earl Haig Secondary School won the International Brain Bee in 1999.]