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First Collegiate Sarah Jane Brain Club Launches at Harvard

Harvard University students will launch the first collegiate Sarah Jane Brain (SJB) Club, which will explore issues surrounding pediatric traumatic brain injury, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education tomorrow.

"We at Harvard are privileged to launch the first Sarah Jane Brain Club at a university, which will help spread the message and improve the treatment of people with brain damage," said Professor Kurt Fischer, director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at HGSE.

The inaugural meeting -- scheduled for 12:30 p.m. tomorrow in Larsen G-08 -- will bring together various students and faculty across Harvard University to focus on advancing knowledge of the brain, and supporting the millions of families around the country dealing with brain injuries.

Launched by Patrick Donahue, a father of a child suffering from Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI), the Sarah Jane Brain Project focuses on creating a model system for research, rehabilitation, and development of children suffering from brain injuries. PTBI is the leading cause of death and disability in people from birth to age 25 in the United States.

"The Brain Project brings attention to the fundamental issues of brain damage, which happen every day in our world," Fischer said. "The pervasive effects of brain damage need to be recognized and integrated into our understanding of people's capacities and functioning. The efforts launched by the Sarah Jane Brain Project will make a positive difference in moving our society to deal more effectively with the consequences of brain damage."

The SJB Club at Harvard is open to all students throughout the university. "Our hope is to inform a lot of people in the Harvard community, who may be interested in this topic, or for personal reasons, such as knowing family or friends who may have experienced a brain injury or even those working in medical or educational fields that may work with brain development or brain health or social services in the community," says Nancy Meserve, the club's cofounder and a current student in the Mind, Brain, and Education Program. "We see this as a topic that attracts a real broad audience."

In order to address the many different facets of PBTI, the club is broken down into eight committees as follows:

  • Prevention: students focus on issues related to the prevention of brain injuries
  • Acute Care: students assist with the phase from diagnosis of a brain injury through discharge from a hospital or rehabilitation facility
  • Reintegration: students help with the issues that arise when those with brain injuries re-enter schools and communities following their injury
  • Adult Transition: students work with those with brain injuries from 16-25 years of age, including veterans returning with blast injuries and their
  • families
  • Rural/Telehealth: students assist families in rural areas, as well as collaborate on furthering the telecommunications field as it pertains to
  • brain injury
  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: students work with "mild" traumatic brain injury issues, including athletes, coaches, and trainers, and sports concussions
  • The Virtual Center: students assist with the development of the online presence of all other categories
  • Legal: students help advocate for families affected by brain injury as well as focus on legal issues for those families

Meserve said the club's initial meeting will focus on getting the initiative off the ground and setting a foundation for future classes, as well as getting students interested in working on the various committees. "We want to keep this going and make it an active and useful organization," she said.

Fischer and Visiting Scholar Stephanie Peabody, both actively involved in the Mind, Brain, and Education movement worldwide, applaud the initiative.

"The Sarah Jane Brain Clubs are a great method for integrating students who have an interest in advancing our understanding and knowledge about the brain while allowing them to pursue their career focus," said Peabody, also executive of the International Mind, Brain, Health, and Education Initiative. "This is one of the most exciting and substantive student initiatives we will ever witness."

For more information about the SJBC at Harvard, please e-mail Nancy Meserve.


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