The Science of Us: Mapping the Human Brain

Northwestern Medicine
Neurosciences July 17, 2014
In 2013, President Obama launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative – a new research effort that focuses on inventing and refining technologies that will revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. In the spirit of this new endeavor, Northwestern Medicine's Andrew Parsa, MD, PhD, set out to inspire Chicago school children to become the future generation of neuroscientists. 

Parsa, chair of neurological surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, teamed up with three Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to host an educational program called The Science of Us: Mapping the Human Brain. The objective of this new Northwestern Medicine program is to teach 4th and 5th grade students about the human brain and the importance of President Obama’s BRAIN initiative.

“I was amazed by how interested and attentive the students were during these talks – they really connected to the content and asked very insightful and intelligent questions about the brain," said Parsa, who is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and part of the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute. "It was a very gratifying experience to share my knowledge and see these kids get excited about the human brain. If I can inspire at least one kid to go into the neurosciences, I will have accomplished my goal.”

In conjunction with his presentations, Parsa also invited the students to participate in an essay contest to draft papers about why they think brain mapping is important and how it connects back to what they've learned in their science curriculum. Parsa personally graded the more than 300 essays written by students at South Loop ElementarySTEM Magnet Academy and Pulaski International School of Chicago. He returned to each of the schools to provide every student with a certificate of recognition for their excellent work. 

“Northwestern Medicine is deeply committed to giving back to our community so it’s exciting to see Dr. Parsa, a leader in our organization, doing it in the context of education,” said Posh Charles, vice president of external affairs.

To learn more about Northwestern Medicine's role in the community, visit our Community Matters website

For information on the Department of Neurological Surgery, visit its website