Missouri teen wins National Brain Bee, will represent U.S. at world championship

National Brain Bee Champion Akhil Kondepudi with his mother Prasanna Jagatha at the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore, March 18. 

Akhil Kondepudi of St. Louis, Missouri has won this year’s National Brain Bee Championship, a neuroscience competition for teenagers. The 11th edition of the competition was held March 16-18 at the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore. Indian-Americans accounted for seven out of the 10 winners.

Kondepudi’s journey to the nationals began after he won the St. Louis Area Brain Bee held at Washington University in St. Louis. In that regional contest, he gave the correct answer – spinal cord - to the question: “Sonic hedgehog is important for the development of what part of the nervous system?”

“I really like neuroscience. I am here to win. I came to compete and to have fun,” a Washington University press release quoted Kondepudi as saying after he won the regionals. Kondepudi is a junior at Ladue Horton Watkins High School.

In July, hewill represent the United States at the WorldBrain Bee Championship hosted by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies. He has also been given an eight-week internship in a neuroscience laboratory. A donation is also given to the Disabled American Veterans.

Winners from 54 chapter competitions in 37 states were tested on such topics as intelligence, emotions, memory, sleep, vision, hearing, sensations, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, addictions and brain research. The competition, sponsored by the Department of Neural and Pain Sciencesof the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, involves a neuroanatomy laboratory practicalexam with real human brains, patient diagnosis with patient actors, neurohistology, brain MRI imaging identification and orals.

Hemanth Asirvatham of Minneapolis, Minnesota, came in second, while third place went to SehejBindra of Piscataway, New Jersey. Colin Wood of Worcester, Massachusetts came in fourth; SnehaShinde of Rootstown, Ohio came in fifth; AayushSetty from Atlanta, Georgia came in sixth; LasyaKambhampati from Kansas City, Kansas came in seventh; Veda Chanda from Hershey, Pennsylvania came in eighth; Sarah Shirley from Little Rock, Arkansas came in ninth; and Jessica Goldstein from Hempstead, New York came in tenth.

The USA Brain Bee is an Official Regional Brain Bee of the International Brain Bee which is lead by a board of directors from the Society for Neuroscience, the American Psychological Association, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, The International Brain Research Organization, and the Federation of European Neurosciences Societies. Currently there are about 200 Brain Bee chapters in about 50 countries in six continents.

According to International Brain Bee founder Norbert Myslinski, a neuroscientist, the competition’s purpose “is to motivate young students to learn about the human brain and inspire them to seek careers in the basic and clinical neurosciences to help treat and find cures for brain disorders. We build better brains to fight brain disorders.”

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