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The Reading on the Brain Program Teaches Baltimore City Elementary Students About the Brain-Building Power of Reading

September 19, 2019

Students art was used to create a giant mural about what they learned.

Tracy Bale, PhDA giant mural with images depicting reading and the brain was unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Baltimore's Callaway Elementary School. It was part of Reading on the Brain, a University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) program to teach young students about the importance of reading and how reading can stimulate brain development and inspire future success.

The mural was created over several months with the help of acclaimed Baltimore artist Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen, who worked with students twice a week to translate scientific concepts about reading and the brain into a unique work of art. The student’s paintings depicted neurons, astrocytes and visions of what they think happens to the brain when they read. The mural is 1,800 square feet and adorns the front wall of Callaway Elementary.

Tracy Bale, PhD, is leading the pilot program, which emphasizes science in helping children to understand how the brain works. Professor Bale is Director of the UMSOM Center for the Epigenetic Research in Child Health and Brain Development (CERCH). The Center's mission is to facilitate translational research and community engagement important in child health and brain development. Studies using brain imaging have shown that reading stimulates mental imagery, language processing, and brain activity in regions important for mental health and stress relief.

Dean E. Abert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA"The idea behind this program was to inspire the community to think about the impact and importance of a child's brain, the influences of the environment, and the amazing potential and benefits of reading," said Dr. Bale during a ceremony attended by the student artists, UMSOM Dean E. Abert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, and Baltimore Public Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises.

Dr. Santelises says the collaboration is making a difference for students. "Part of our whole child initiative is really represented in this work, that you are not just a scientist, but you can also be an artist, a writer and an author," she said.

Dean Reece urged the student artists to “dream big,” and consider medicine as a future career.

BGE donated $5,000 to the Reading on the Brain Program to support its school-based activities.

Support Reading on the Brain and The Center for Epigenetic Research in Child Health and Brain Development (CERCH) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world -- with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research.  With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $530 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu

Reading on the Brain 2019 Gallery

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