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High school senior Neil Kale wins 15th annual Central Massachusetts Brain Bee

Competition, hosted by UMass Medical School, aims to stimulate teens’ interest in neuroscience

Massachusetts Academy of Math and Sciences senior Neil Kale of Westborough was the winner of the 15th annual Brain Bee competition for Massachusetts high school students. The annual event, designed to stimulate high school students’ interest in neuroscience, was hosted by the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology and the NeuroNexus Institute at UMass Medical School via Zoom on Saturday, March 20.

Pictured clockwise from bottom left are 2021 Brain Bee winner Neil Kale; Michael and Shirley Sheridan; master of ceremonies and event organizer Sheldon Benjamin, MD, and David Weaver, PhD; and the Kale family.

Kale earned the highest score on the written exam, which was administered through a testing app and Zoom. Adapted from in-person events in previous years, this year’s test included multiple choice and short-answer questions on nervous system function, diseases and neuroanatomy, and diagnosing a neuropsychiatric disease from a written description.

Kale competed in the previous two competitions, placing second in 2020. This year’s runners up were Iris Wu of the Groton School; Justin-Shan of Acton-Boxborough Regional High School; Lakshita Dutta of Grafton High School; and Krish Suraparaju of the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science.

Sheldon Benjamin, MD, professor of psychiatry and neurology, served as master of ceremonies and presented the Andrew Sheridan Young Neuroscientist Award to Kale. David Weaver, PhD, professor of neurobiology and director of the NeuroNexus Institute, coordinated the event.

In addition to the competition, each year the Brain Bee features a lecture on a relevant development in neuroscience. This year’s guest lecture on gene therapy for Tay-Sachs disease was delivered by Heather Gray-Edwards, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of radiology.

The Central Massachusetts Regional Brain Bee is part of the nationwide program created by the Society for Neuroscience to foster high school student interest in medical and laboratory neuroscience careers. Kale, as recipient of the regional organization’s Andrew M. Sheridan Young Neuroscientist Award, will compete in the USA National Brain Bee on April 10. The award was established by Michael and Shirley Sheridan in honor of their late son Andrew, who had a passion for neuroscience.

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