Auckland student gains international ‘Brain Bee’ placing

01 October 2013
Last year Jiantao Shen took the North Island Brain Bee Challenge (NIBB) held at FMHS. He is pictured then with his trophy and left to right: Mt Roskill Grammar science teacher, Mr Abhai Dass, Jiantao, Director CBR, Professor Richard Faull and NIBB organiser, Professor Louise Nicholson.

An Auckland student has placed third in an international neuroscience knowledge contest against the top students from 17 other countries.

Mt Roskill Grammar School student, Jiantao Shen, was beaten in a close final, by winner Jackson Huang from Australia, and second placed Giulio Deangeli from Italy, during the final in Vienna, Austria.

Jiantao was the 2012 New Zealand Brain Bee Champion, winning the North Island round and beating the South Island winner in the final, held in January this year.  The North Island Brain Bee is organised by staff in the Centre for Brain Research and Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland.

After rigorous and close competition that spanned two days and 7.5 total hours of contest modules, the 2013 International Brain Bee (IBB) champion Jackson Huang’s win was the second-straight win for Australia.

Jackson won a $3,000 scholarship and an internship with a notable neuroscientist of the Society for Neuroscience. Second placed, Giulio Deangeli from Padua in Italy won a $2000 scholarship and third prize for Jiantao Shen was a $1000 scholarship.

In its 15th year, the neuroscience competition for high school students (ages 15-18) had a record number of countries represented. 

The IBB program encompassed four days of engaging with the host conference and local partner institutions: the Vienna Medical University Institute for Neurology and Department of Anatomy, the Vienna Biocenter, and Open Science.   Activities included a hands-on neuropathology workshop with human brains, a personal conversation with the Director of the world's oldest institute for brain research, live demonstrations of the latest technologies in neuroscience and neurology research, and tours of research laboratories.

Participants also attended seminars and plenary lectures by leading neurologists and neurosurgeons, took part in a dynamic discussion-based game at Open Science, visited the Natural History Museum and the Sigmund Freud Museum, and were guests at an elegant Awards Ceremony and celebration dinner at the historic "Lusthaus", the 16th Century hunting lodge.

Topics of competition included research methods and medical technology, brain functions underlying sensations, intelligence, emotions, movement, and consciousness, and brain dysfunctions that result in Alzheimer's, autism, and addiction.

The intense five-part competition included a neuro-anatomy laboratory exam with real human brains, a diagnosis section using video footage of actual patients and interactive laboratory exam evaluation, a neuro-histology test, a written quiz involving analysis of brain scans, problem-solving of case studies, and direct question-and-answer with live judges, all three of whom were distinguished neurologists: Dr. Gustavo Román of Colombia and the USA, Dr. Giancarlo Logroscino of Italy, and Dr. Walter Struhal of Austria.

The Brain Bee aims to motivate youth to learn about the human brain and inspires them to consider careers in neuroscience, psychology, neurology and related fields.


For further information, please contact:

Professor Louise FB Nicholson - New Zealand Brain Bee Challenge Coordinator
The Centre for Brain Research
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
University of Auckland
Ph 64 9 373 7599 ext 86579