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BrainWorks: The Theater of Neuroscience explores the wonders of the human brain by dramatizing real-life neurological cases to reveal the science behind brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, brain tumors and stroke. Drs. Albert H. Kim  and Eric C. Leuthardt  serve as our guides, using intimate conversation and rich animation to tell personal stories that use the best elements of theatre – professional actors, storytelling techniques, even humor – to communicate what medical science and technology understand about the brain and the current therapies available to treat brain disease.

BrainWorks will deepen the public’s understanding of vital health issues, including the connection between the brain and overall health. BrainWorks will also emphasize the value of the arts and humanities in communicating ideas about science and technology. It uses real, tangible tools needed for the public to make more informed health decisions.

In addition to the televised premiere, elements of BrainWorks will be shared with the public through a variety of digital platforms and social media.

BrainWorks Episode Guide 

These dramatizations were inspired by real patients and co-written by professional playwrights who are alumni of New Dramatists, premier playwriting center, and have a personal connection to the material.

Brainworks poster compilationEpisode 1: Rinse & Repeat

As a retired judge experiences the stages of Alzheimer’s, her granddaughter struggles to balance the demands of college with her role as caregiver. Drs. Kim and Leuthardt discuss the science behind the disease, the emerging optimism about a future cure, and the ways in which loved ones can still build meaningful connections despite difficult circumstances.

Episode 2: X Marks the Spot

Inspired by a number of patient stories, this fascinating play focuses on a mid-career professional whose personality undergoes profound changes caused by meningioma, a treatable, benign brain tumor. As the story unfolds, Dr. Kim reveals how brain tumors form and develop, and discusses surgical advances that make removing them safer for patients today.

Episode 3: Brain Interrupted 

This coming-of-age story examines how undiagnosed epilepsy affects the life of high school student, Riley. As the young woman struggles to cope with constantly feeling lost or being defined as “spacey,” Dr. Leuthardt reveals that not all epileptic seizures are obvious and offers a minimally invasive procedure that gives Riley a newfound clarity and confidence.

Episode 4: Double Windsor

The Double Windsor knot is elegant, dignified, and difficult to tie under the best of circumstances – and seemingly impossible if you’ve suffered a stroke and lost the use of your left hand. Inspired by one of Dr. Leuthardt’s patients, this story demonstrates how new therapies and emerging technologies, such as the brain-computer interface, are making second chances possible for people who have experienced stroke and other traumatic brain injuries.

Creators and Co-Writers

Dr. Kim and Dr. Leuthardt directing an episode of BrainWorks

Albert H. Kim, MD, PhD, has made fundamental discoveries in the fields of brain development and brain tumors, including glioblastomas, meningiomas and pituitary tumors, which have impacted the ways medicine views and treats brain tumors. 

Kim is a neurosurgeon with the departments of Neurological Surgery, Neurology and Developmental Biology at Washington University School of Medicine. He is surgical director of the Pituitary Center and leads the Laboratory for Molecular Neuro-Oncology, which is focused on basic and translational scientific approaches to cure brain tumors. Kim is co-creator and co-writer of BrainWorks.

Eric C. Leuthardt, MD, is changing the fields of neurosurgery and rehabilitative medicine, particularly for patients with motor disabilities, through his research in brain-computer interface technology. His integrated approach has garnered international recognition and honors, including the Top Young Innovators Award in MIT's Technology Review.  

Leuthardt is a neurosurgeon-scientist and professor in the departments of Neurological Surgery, Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Washington University School of Medicine. He is the director of the Center for Innovation in Neuroscience and Technology, which fosters translation between neuroscience and clinical treatment, and the director of the Brain Laser Center, which uses MRI-guided laser therapy to treat brain tumors and other neurological conditions. Leuthardt is co-creator and co-writer of BrainWorks.

What began in 2011 as an annual TED-style lecture series about advances in medicine became neuroscience theatre, selling out multiple performances and introducing new ways for the public to understand the human brain. Nine Network’s BrainWorks production—a televised one-hour special—won a Regional Emmy in 2016. Drs. Leuthardt and Kim are nationally renowned neurosurgeon scientists and hosts of the Brain Coffee Podcast.

In collaboration with Nine Network of Public Media, The BrainWorks production will become an exciting catalyst for sharing the wonders of the human brain with regional and national audiences across digital platforms, through partner organizations, and with American Public Television.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital & Washington University Physicians | Nine Network

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