Brain Awareness Week

April 7–11, 2014

This year’s annual Brain Awareness Week at Azusa Pacific University includes two special sessions focusing on the issue of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Traumatic Brain Injury has catapulted into the public spotlight through national discussions surrounding the potential long-term effects of head trauma, post-war veteran brain health, and the recent NFL concussion lawsuit settlement. BAW 2014 will focus on engaging in open dialogue on these issues and more.

This year’s events are sponsored by APU’s Office of the Provost, Office of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Athletics Department, and the departments of Biology and Chemistry, Undergraduate and Graduate Psychology, and the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. Additionally, APU has partnered with the National Institute of Health and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives to educate and speak with the community about the neurobiological mechanisms, available treatments, societal impacts, and controversy surrounding Traumatic Brain Injury.

For more information about APU’s Brain Awareness Week activities, please contact Skyla Herod, Brain Awareness Week director, at

Stay up to date on BAW events and information on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Keynote Address

Tuesday, April 8, 6 p.m.
Upper Turner Campus Center

“Solving the Concussion Crisis”
Chris Nowinski

Nowinski is a Harvard graduate, former collegiate football athlete, former WWE wrestler, and co-founder of Sports Legacy Institute, a nonprofit group that specializes in concussion research, education, and outreach. Nowinski is nationally credited with playing a pivotal role in bringing the issue of long-term effects of concussion injury to the forefront. Nowinski was featured in the documentary, Head Games, based off his book by the same title. In this lecture, he will provide an overview of the concussion issue from its genesis to today. Beginning with his personal story of his journey from Harvard football to WWE, where a kick to the head caused post-concussion syndrome, the lecture will explore the culture wars preventing appropriate change, the latest medical research from the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, and will provide a recommended path forward to smarter and safer sports. A one-hour question-and-answer session will immediately follow.

Workshop and Panel Discussion

Thursday, April 10, 6 p.m.
Hall of Champions

“Traumatic Brain Injury: Understanding the Symptoms, Causes, Controversies, and Treatment”

  • David McArthur, Ph.D., MPH, Brain Injury Research Center, UCLA Neurosurgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • Robert Almaraz, Executive Director, Betty Clooney Center for Persons With Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Victor Santa-Cruz, Head Football Coach, Azusa Pacific University
  • Moderator: Skyla M. Herod, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biology and Chemistry; Brain Awareness Week Director; neuroscientist specializing in aspects of stress and neurodevelopment

This event will feature a short presentation on the history, epidemiology, diagnosis, and neurocritical care for TBI from David McArthur, Ph.D., MPH, from the Brain Injury Research Center (BIRC) in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s leading centers for diagnosis, research, and treatment of TBI. Following the presentation, a panel discussion will include stories and insight from Robert Almaraz, executive director of the Betty Clooney Center in Los Angeles, and Victor Santa Cruz, Azusa Pacific University’s head football coach.

The Betty Clooney Center, founded by George Clooney and family, addresses and serves the needs of survivors of cognitive disabilities caused by traumatic brain injury, strokes, aneurysms, and other neurological injuries. The workshop is designed to help students, faculty, and staff identify the symptoms of concussion, learn about some of the ongoing challenges for those living with TBI, and help implement treatment plans that best serve the neurological safety of our student-athletes and veterans.