Perse student qualifies for national neuroscience competition finals
30 Mar 2021
Alexandra Lisitsyna (Lower Sixth) has demonstrated her neurological knowledge to make it to the British Brain Bee national finals.
After coming through an initial online multiple choice answer assessment, she came third in the regional round, also held virtually, having had to revise for a series of tough neuroscience-related challenges.
These included learning about more than 20 neurological diseases to diagnose imaginary patients and 100 anatomical structures within the brain, from which 20 were chosen which participants either had to name or explain the function of.
Alexandra said: “It was very difficult. I’d never looked at the brain in so much detail before. There was so much revision to do, so I never anticipated I’d get into the national final.”
She explained that she had been interested in medicine since a young age and had developed a passion for neuroscience after reading renowned neurosurgeon Henry Marsh CBE’s book Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery.
“I thought it was so interesting, even though neuroscience is so complicated,” said Alexandra. “I then did a Harvard MOOC (massive open online course) on neuroscience, which helped create a base for my learning.”
Alexandra, who hopes to become either a neurosurgeon or cardiothoracic surgeon, is also researching whether tetrodotoxin – the potent neurotoxin found in some marine animals, such as pufferfish – could be used instead of local anaesthetics in surgery for her ongoing Rouse Award project.
As such, she admitted it would be hard to revise as much as she would like for the national Brain Bee final, which takes place in May with the champion going on to represent the UK in the International Brain Bee competition.
Alexandra said: “My focus is on my Rouse project, so I don’t really have a lot of time to prepare for the final, but I’m still going to try to do my best.”