Brain Bee winner Jackson Huang.
Brain Bee winner Jackson Huang.
26 September 2013

Queenslander Jackson Huang has been named the International Brain Bee Champion.

The Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition for young students, 13 to 19 years of age, run in conjunction with the World Congress of Neurology.

It is the second year running that an Australian, and indeed a Queenslander has taken out the international final.

Future neuroscientists from 18 countries around the world met at the International Neurology Congress in Vienna, Austria to compete in the fifteenth International Brain Bee Championship from September 22 to September 24.

Professor Linda Richards of the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), who founded the Australian Brain Bee Challenge, said its purpose was to motivate young men and women to study the brain, and to inspire them to consider careers in the basic and clinical neurosciences.

“We hope to inspire young Australians to become scientists tackling the cause of neurological disease and mental illnesses and to learn how the brain functions.

“Australian students entering this competition are consistently out-performing students from other countries at the highest international level which is great news for the future of neuroscience in Australia,” she said.

Jackson, who attends the Queensland Academy of Science Maths and Technology, receives $3000, a trophy, and work experience in a neuroscience laboratory.

The Brain Bee competition has three tiers. Worldwide there are about 150 local competitions, each one involving many schools.

The winners of local competitions in each country then compete in their respective national championships.

In Australia, around 5000 students took part in the competition that named Jackson as the Australian Brain Bee Challenge National Champion.
The national winners from each country then go on to compete in the International Championship.

They are tested on their knowledge of the human brain including such topics as intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensation, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addictions and brain research.

The competition involves oral tests, a neuroanatomy laboratory exam, a neurohistology test, a written test and a patient diagnosis component.

Sample questions include:

What kind of molecules are semaphorin, ephrin, neuropilin and plexin?
Sonic hedgehog is important for the development of what part of the nervous system? What is the medical term for when you start dreaming before you fall asleep?
Stargazer mice are experimental models for which type of epilepsy?

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Queensland Brain Institute

The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) was established as a research institute of The University of Queensland in 2003. The Institute now operates out of a $63 million state-of-the-art facility and houses 33 principal investigators with strong international reputations. QBI is one of the largest neuroscience institutes in the world dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying brain function.

Australian Brain Bee Challenge

The Australian Brain Bee Challenge (ABBC) is recognised by the International Brain Bee competition held in the United States and winners of the ABBC may have the opportunity to participate in the international competition.

The ABBC is calling for entries for students wishing to become the 2013 Australian Brain Bee Champion.

Registration is free and teachers may nominate one student through to their entire Year 10 class.

Designed to inspire students to pursue careers in neuroscience research, ABBC is the only neuroscience competition in the country for high school students. It was initiated by the Queensland Brain Institute in 2006 and is a collaboration with the Australian Neuroscience Society. Major sponsors for the event also include Carl Zeiss Pty Ltd., Australasia and AD-Instruments, Australia and New Zealand.