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Nashoba Regional High junior wins local Brain Bee

UMass Chan Medical School hosted 17th annual Central Massachusetts Brain Bee

At the 2023 Central Massachusetts Brain Bee Award Ceremony are, from left, Sheldon Benjamin, MD; Eduardo Roberts; champion Ivan Roberts; runner-up Srilakshmi Venkatesan; David Weaver, PhD; and Michael Sheridan.

Ivan Roberts, a junior at Nashoba Regional High School, took top honors in the 17th Annual Central Massachusetts Brain Bee, held at UMass Chan Medical School on March 18.

Nine finalists were identified in a virtual qualifying round on March 11. The finalists represented five area high schools, including one student each from Nashoba Regional, Northbridge High School, Westborough High School and Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, and five students from Hopkinton High School.

Sheldon Benjamin, MD, professor of psychiatry, served as master of ceremonies for the event. Dr. Benjamin organized the event with David Weaver, PhD, professor of neurobiology, director of the graduate program in neuroscience, and executive director of the NeuroNexus Institute.

Ana Rita Batista, PhD, instructor in neurology, presented the keynote address, “How to develop a gene therapy for a rare neurological disease,” discussing her work on Cockayne syndrome, a rare, autosomal recessive mutation that leads to deficits in DNA repair, with widespread consequences including learning and sensory disabilities.

As the Central Massachusetts Brain Bee winner, Roberts is the recipient of the Andrew M. Sheridan Young Neuroscientist Award. The award was established by Michael and Shirley Sheridan, in honor of their late son, Andrew, who had an enthusiasm for neuroscience.

Michael Sheridan participated in the presentation of the award to Roberts, who also received an all-expense paid trip to participate in the 2023 USA National Bee at the University of California-Irvine in April.

The winner of the National Bee will receive a cash award and will be eligible to compete in the 2023 International Brain Bee to be held in conjunction with the American Psychological Association meeting in Washington, D.C., in August. The Brain Bee was founded in 1998 by Norbert Myslinski, PhD, at the University of Maryland as a neuroscience competition for high school students. It has grown into an international competition promoting knowledge of neuroscience and interest in neuroscience-related careers.

The Central Massachusetts Brain Bee is sponsored by the Departments of Neurobiology and Psychiatry and the NeuroNexus Institute at UMass Chan.