What is Neuro.RAPT?

Neuro.RAPT is a science collaborative; a bi-weekly educational science web series intended to:

Spotlight the latest scientific research – connecting the community at large to the exciting attempts for therapeutic treatments and cures

  • Provide a greater understanding of our body and medical conditions
  • Elucidate the efforts of non-profits in relation to science and medicine
  • Explore alternative therapies
  • Inspire personal health and well-being management
  • Foster appreciation for the extraordinary capabilities of our human body

2013 Program

May 20th – Hippotherapy – A Horse’s Healing Power

June 3rd – A Bully’s Brain – The Neural Underpinnings of Bullying – Part 1
(premiering at the Center on Halsted in Chicago on June 2nd in collaboration with Studentsxpress)

June 17th – A Bully’s Brain – The Neural Underpinnings of Bullying – Part 2
(premiering at the Center on Halsted in Chicago on June 2nd)

July 1st – The Merger of Neuroscience and Art

July 15th – Cerebral Palsy and its Survival Rates

July 29th – A Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease – Episode 1: Where It All Began

August 12th – A Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease – Episode 2: Dementia and the Toxins
that Destroy Memory & Learning

August 26th – A Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease – Episode 3: Why Toxins Build Up in the Brain and Can We Prevent It?

September 9th – A Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease – Episode 4: Who Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect? & The Breakthroughs in Brain Imaging

September 23rd – A Journey into Alzheimer’s Disease – Episode 5: Discovering
Therapeutics that Work & the New Path Towards Effective Alzheimer’s
Disease Treatment.

October 7th – Gratitude for Our Hands

October 21st – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

November 4th – Arthritis

November 18th – A Meditation on How Not to Overeat

December 2nd – Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

December 16th – Common Brain Lesions Associated with Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

December 30th – Neural Repair after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Preview of 2014 Line-Up

January 16th – Neural Repair with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

January 27th –  The Effects of Aging on Driving

February 10th – Cervicogenic Headaches

February 24th – Understanding Pain

March 10th – The Marriage of Spirituality and Pain

March 24th – The Health Effects of Laughter

How it all Began:
Almost two and a half years ago, catapulted by a serendipitous moment in my life, I began a great love story with neuroscience; smitten by the brain’s mystery and completely awed by its wondrous and infinite functions. I spent a lot of time in the Santa Monica Public Library delving into books written by neuroscientists such as Dr. Antonio Damasio, and numerous other authors, showing up at lectures at Caltech, attending an absolutely fantastic program that is permanently etched in my memory called: Music and the Mind at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica and requesting meetings with neuroscientists to ask questions – oh I had so many and still do – and they selflessly and graciously took me under their wings.

Prior to this moment, science was never my cup of tea. At school, I did well in science because I studied hard, but conceptually it didn’t interest me. It was extremely challenging to grasp, and as a result it did not remain in my long term memory. Interestingly enough, what I do remember is sitting in my chemistry class listening to the monotone drone of my tall, lanky teacher talking about formulas. There was no emotion or passion in his delivery – it was dry and absolutely uneventful. Perhaps he thought he was being passionate about his subject matter? Or for that matter to those students who were already scientifically inclined, the delivery of the lessons was an unimportant factor. I’ve always been drawn to the human elements of emotion, feeling and passion and his delivery affected my comprehension of the lessons, ultimately becoming disconnected with the material as there was no anchor to reel me in. My concept of science had always been defined by the dread of going to those classes so with this new found discovery in adulthood, I aimed to create educational programs which were accessible, interesting and of course emotionally engaging to the community at large.

How the Journey Evolved:
Amanda Salem, the prior editor of Pacific Palisades Patch asked me to contribute a blog after attending an event I curated at the Topanga Film Festival, merging film, creativity and neuroscience. Although it was never verbally discussed, I imagined she assumed that I would be writing about film. My first article to appear on Patch centered on the brain and in the midst of writing it, I met an extraordinary woman who rose against all odds to pay her mounting healthcare bills while undergoing treatment for cancer. She made jewelry out of meds. It was a story worth telling. Within a short time, my stream of articles had expanded to the entire arena of healthcare.

The Final Frontier
One day a darling little boy, named Raul, tumbled down my Facebook news feed. I clicked on his photo and became exposed to an orphan disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa, and was completely horrified by its brutality. Within moments, I had contacted the young woman who was responsible for saving his life and she willingly told me their story. With her permission, I contacted doctors across the United States who were helping him and wrote an article which affected readers not just nationally but internationally. Recognizing that my article was on a blog and had limitations to viewership, I lobbied journalists at major publications across the United States to cover his story on a broader level. I wrote compelling letters to news stations. I demanded more exposure because it is absolutely preposterous to me that a disease this horrific gets limited funding because of its ‘orphan nature’.

Journalists responded to me, wanting to help but burdened by deadlines. News stations never responded.

The Visual Platform
I could spend my days pitching until I become breathless, or I could direct the lens towards those meaningful stories. Hence, the visual platform was born.

The Fusion of the Arts
I cannot imagine a world without the arts and have incorporated the arts relating to health and science into many of the segments.

Grassroots Style
The series utilizes a hybrid mix of grassroots and technology. Technology is wonderful but it’s not always consistent with its intimacy. Grassroots has been and will always be personal. This is a homemade series and the local participation of community emphasizes the personal care that’s been put into the curation of this series.

The Pitch
I pitched doctors, neuroscientists, artists and local community members and before I knew it, I had a collaboration of friends and supporters both domestically and even internationally who through their participation would help drive this educational concept forward.

The Format
Some segments were made with the intention of evoking a ‘homemade’ feel, much like mom’s home-baked apple pie. Other segment formats include: docu.bytes, interview style, and montages. No matter what format, viewers can be assured that each segment is created with tender loving care.

Those Indie Special Moments
One of my favorite aspects of being behind an indie production is the drive to tell a story, no matter how sparse the budget. The film shoots are not fancy and in fact many of the doctors and neuroscientists were involved with moving furniture and carrying equipment.

Doctors were given the chance to look behind the lens at the set-up of the shot so they could step into our world as they had so graciously allowed us to step into theirs.

Closing Notes
I knew this project was an ambitious undertaking, but I’m an idealist.

The Invite
All of you are invited to go on this journey as this was created with the community in mind.