UCSF Families Enjoy Hands-On Demonstrations for Neuroscience Day

Last Saturday, over a hundred parents, children, and staff joined for Neuroscience Day, an outreach event that included hands-on workshops in the operating rooms at the UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights. 

Organized by the Department of Neurological Surgery, Neuroscience Day offered various neuroscience and neurosurgery workshops, and culminated in a visit to the operating room. The weekend event was an opportunity for staff to bring their children and families to the hospital and share their work in an engaging, educational way. 

The event was held in partnership with UCSF Healthlink, a UCSF student-run organization aimed at supporting and inspiring local high school students that are underrepresented in healthcare professions. Over sixty Healthlink students participated alongside Neurosurgery Department families in the Neuroscience Day activities. 

Neurosurgeon Doris Wang, MD, PhD, who spearheaded the event, shared fun facts about the spine and led a demo on placing pedicle screws on a spine model. 

With neurosurgeon Shawn Hervey-Jumper, MD, participants learned about neuroanatomy and got to see a human brain specimen. UCSF neurosurgery resident Andrew Chan, MD, led a demo on neuronavigation and the tools used to, for instance, accurately locate a tumor within the brain. 

UCSF anesthesiologists Charlene Blake, MD, PhD and Heather Hervey-Jumper, MD shared how they prepare, monitor, and care for patients throughout surgery. The kids and students even tried their hands at endotracheal intubation – on a practice manikin model, of course.  

Additional workshops led by Healthlink mentors, comprised primarily of UCSF medical students, covered basic neuroscience topics and included activities involving sensory perception, reflexes, and more.  

While this was the first Neuroscience Day held by the Department, there are plans to make the outreach event an annual occurrence. 

For neurosurgery department staff, it was a unique opportunity to bring their families to the workplace, and especially inside the operating room. “It was a great experience for my daughter and myself to see what our Neurosurgery teams do every day!” said Omar Flamenco, Practice Manager of Neuro-Spine Services. “Thank you for all that you do for our community.”


A special thanks goes out to everyone that made this day possible: From the faculty volunteers who led demos, to the OR staff who reserved and set up the ORs with demo equipment, industry partners who donated their models and time, and all others involved in coordinating the event, it was an enormous team effort.