May 26, 2019

Fourth Annual Brain Week Rhode Island: A Cerebral Celebration

Public Events for All Ages Joins Global Campaign to Increase Awareness of Brain Health and Brain Science


The fourth annual Brain Week Rhode Island (brainweekri) takes place from March 9-17, 2019 in multiple locations in Rhode Island. This event is a singular celebration of the brain, featuring cerebrally stimulating panels and presentations on the most current brain research –fun, interactive brain-themed events for all ages. Most events are free of charge. The program also features “BRAINY” classroom sessions designed to inspire young people to consider science as a profession.

Since its inception in 2016, the goal of Brain Week Rhode Island has been to share with the community the expansive knowledge of the brain and neuroscience research happening in the Ocean State. The event brings together specialists in many fields to make brain science and brain health accessible for everyone.

Victoria Heimer-McGinn, PhD, Chair of Brain Week Rhode Island and assistant professor at Roger Williams University said, “There is a wealth of neuroscience in Rhode Island and a growing public interest in the most remarkable computing device known to date: the human brain. People want to know just how everything we do, feel, and perceive – from dreams to our poor life decisions – reside in the brain. It’s no surprise that in only four years we have experienced substantial growth in terms of our audiences, supporters and collaborators. This year we open with a panel on opioids, one of the more pressing issues of our time, where we hope to gap the bridge between complex human behavior and basic brain research.”

Activities during Brain Week Rhode Island include creative learning opportunities, expert panels, workshops, a film screening, dance for the aging and movement challenged, a “Moth-like” story telling event, art shows, and two brain fairs with interactive science exhibits at URI and Brown University. Topics range from the basic science of just how the most complex object in the known universe works, to how it can be damaged or malfunction, understanding and preventing suicide; exploring fear and social connections through the sciences; Alzheimer’s disease, among others.

Brain Week RI is a communal effort, organized and spearheaded by Cure Alliance for Mental Illness with sponsors/partners including Brown University's Carney Institute for Brain Science; the Ryan Institute at University of Rhode Island; The Association of Migraine Disorders; The Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center; the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute; and Neurology and the Memory and Aging Program, Butler Hospital.

Brain Week also features an inventive and inspiring educational outreach program, “BRAINY School Visits”. Neuroscientists from Brown University and Roger Williams University will visit PK-12 classrooms in Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket and Bristol to inspire the next generation of brain scientists. Demos will feature real human brains and other interactive learning activities, sometimes in Spanish as well as English.

Most Brain Week RI events are free and open to the public. Advance reservations are strongly advised where available. For a full schedule of Brain Week events (in progress) and to reserve event tickets, visit and/or\brainweekri :

Highlights during the week include:

  • Brain Fairs, URI and Brown University, with more than 20 labs, organizations, and institutes who give you a glimpse of their research using interactive games and fun demonstrations. Each year, the fairs has been attended by over 600 people. Voted “Event of the Year” from the Brown Student Activities Office.
  • Opioids: Health, Policy & Neuroscience, moderated by Dr. Pablo Rodriguez with Tom Coderre, senior advisor to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Linda Mahoney, the RI Opioid Treatment Authority. And Natalie D’Silva, PhD, postdoctoral researcher at Brown who show how research on fruit flies impacts our view of addiction.
  • Understanding and Preventing Suicide, with Benjamin D. Greenberg, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Jennifer M. Primack, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist at the Providence VAMC and an Assistant Professor at Brown Medical School; Michael F. Armey, PhD, a research psychologist at Butler Hospital and an Associate Professor in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. An investigation about some risk factors and cutting-edge treatments from the perspective of researchers, clinicians, and patients.
  • Story Collider, Brain Edition, a storytelling event featuring five true, personal stories about our brains, minds, and what happens when things don’t go as planned. Topics of the night include inspiring stories by people with chronic migraines, left-right confusion, traumatic brain injury, concussions, tinnitus, and anxiety.
  • Join the Fight Against Alzheimers, Dr. Stephen Salloway, MD, MS, director of the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital will make a presentation on Alzheimer’s disease and new breakthroughs in research; eligible attendees will be invited to complete a GeneMatch cheek swab on site for Alzheimer’s research following the presentation.
  • Through Our Eyes: A curated art exhibit highlighting the creativity and talent of people with autism; presented by The Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket and the RI Consortium for Autism Research.
  • Providence Brain Art Fair, at the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art, an exhibition for art that explores the relationship between art and science, bringing them together to create a fun depiction of the brain and its mysteries.

Support for Brain Week RI comes from the Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University, the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, the Providence VA, and the Association of Migraine Disorders, with additional support from Butler Hospital Memory and Aging Program, Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute, the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island and Pawtucket Credit Union.

About Cure Alliance for Mental Illness: Cure Alliance for Mental Illness is a social activist network for mental illness research. Our mission is to unite the energies of patients, families, clinicians, scientists, and mental illness organizations to:

  • Educate the public and policymakers about mental illnesses as brain disorders
  • Advocate for scientific research to understand mental illnesses
  • Work toward safe, effective treatments for those suffering from mental illnesses curealliance.or

About Carney Institute for Brain Science: The Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University advances multidisciplinary research, technology development, and training in the brain sciences and works to establish Brown University as an internationally recognized leader in brain research. The institute unites more than 100 faculty from a diverse group of departments at Brown, spanning basic and clinical departments, and physical and biological sciences.

About the Ryan Institute for Neuroscience: The George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary research center focused on discovering and developing disease-modifying therapies for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The Ryan Institute’s approach includes research into what triggers the atrophy and death of neural cells and systems in neurodegenerative disorders, converting scientific discoveries into therapies, and shepherding promising new therapies into clinical trials.

About the VA RR&D Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology (CfNN): The VA CfNN began with a June 2012 funding award from the Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service. The Center is a collaboration between the Providence VA Medical Center, Brown University, Butler Hospital, Lifespan, and Massachusetts General Hospital. CfNN unifies distinguished researchers and clinicians to advance and translate neurotechnology to restore lost function. Through its three focus areas and three support cores, CfNN seeks to develop, test and implement new therapies and technologies that restore function for Veterans with disorders affecting the nervous system.

About the Association of Migraine Disorders: The Association of Migraine Disorders strives to expand the understanding of migraine and its true scope by supporting research, education, and awareness. AMD has developed a comprehensive program that helps not only to fund specific research projects, but also to launch the careers of those willing to specialize in migraine research.

"Brain Week Rhode Island is a very special event that is intended to inspire the young minds to study our amazing brain, to share the incredible advances in neurosciences and to hear the stories of the real people who are affected by the diseases of the central nervous system. NPNI is proud to sponsor this wonderful event!" -Ziya Gokaslan, Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute

"The brain is what defines us. It governs our capacity to learn, remember, see, play sports, have fun, and feel. Brain Week RI is an exciting way to explore the wonders of the brain and open up the world of neuroscience research to members of the community through games, storytelling, music, and art."  -Diane Lipscombe, Director, Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University

"Brain Week is an exciting opportunity to learn more about brain health through research, panel discussions, storytelling and artistic performances. Brain Week’s collaborative spirit strengthens the connections between our program and Brown University and with our colleagues around the state. Come learn about important advances in the fight against Alzheimer’s taking place right here in Rhode Island." -Stephen Salloway, M.D., M.S.
Director of Neurology and the Memory and Aging Program, Butler Hospital

"We are very proud to be part of Brain Week RI and its mission to educate and inspire people about brain science, especially at a time when we know more than ever about the brain and the steps you can take throughout your lifetime to protect it. It has been wonderful to see a huge turnout from the community at the URI Brain Fair and many great Brain Week RI events." -Paula Grammas Executive Director, Ryan Institute

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to educate the public on migraine disease through Brain Week RI again this year. Migraine affects approximately 130,000 Rhode Islanders, yet this complex neurologic disease, with its spectrum of symptoms, severity and disability, is highly misunderstood and stigmatized. Affecting 1 in 4 families, it is likely that everyone knows someone with this disease. We hope to help attendees gain a better understanding of migraine and its true scope." -Frederick Godley, MD, FACS, President, The Association of Migraine Disorders

"The Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology at the Providence VA Medical Center is proud to be part of Brain Week Rhode Island, as we have been for several years. Our goal is to understand, treat and restore functioning in Veterans suffering from conditions affecting the nervous system, using new therapies and technologies. This year we’re sponsoring two presentations, one on suicide, and another on fear and violence; very important issues for veterans and non-veterans alike." -Benjamin Greenberg MD, PhD, Associate Director, The VA RR&D Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology, Providence Veteran’s Administration Medical Center

Event Dates
Saturday, March 9, 2019 through Sunday, March 17, 2019
Cost / donation
Most Brain Week RI events are free and open to the public.


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