Cedars-Sinai Blog

Brainworks Program Lets LA Students Be Neurosurgeons for a Day

How do you cultivate interest in medicine and science? Start young, says Dr. Keith Black, who created the Brainworks program at Cedars-Sinai.


"Brainworks came about because we wanted to expose as many young minds as we could to how exciting science is."


Now in its 19th year, the program exposes junior high school students to careers and opportunities in neuroscience. Black hopes the program can spark scientific interest in students who might not otherwise think a career in science is possible for them.

"Brainworks came about because we wanted to expose as many young minds as we could to how exciting science is—and especially how fascinating the brain is," said Black.

This week, 150 students from 5 Los Angeles schools visited Cedars-Sinai to participate in hands-on, interactive activities with Cedars-Sinai physicians and staff. The seventh- and eighth-graders were chosen by teachers to attend Brainworks based on their interest and achievement in science.

The students practiced real-life surgical skills using a GPS-like device to see inside a simulated brain; got a lesson on the importance of nutrition and how it affects the brain; and learned about career options in medicine.

"These kids have never thought about being a doctor, so this is amazing," said Cathedral High School teacher Dao Truong. "They can see what's out there, what they can be if they want to."

Since the program began, many students have gone on to pursue careers in medicine.

"I want to go into surgical oncology one day," said past participant Avila, 14. "I realized I want to help others through science and medicine."

And Dr. Black’s favorite part of the program? "I really love seeing the excitement on the kids' faces," he said.