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JU organizes National webinar on Brain Illness and Brain Health

JAMMU: The University of Jammu took a historic step in providing a platform for the new beginning of spreading mental health awareness through a newly launched program first of its kind in the University of Jammu were International, National, and State experts culminated on one platform along with various administrative stakeholders said Prof Manoj K Dhar, Vice-chancellor at a  national webinar on Brain Illness and Brain Health under Brain Awareness Program organised by Department of Zoology, University of Jammu. 

Prof. Dhar stressed the importance of mental health and the need for such awareness programs because this gets compounded by the stigma associated with mental illness and practical interventions within the community.  Awareness plays a vital role especially during this Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown which is contributing to added mental stress. The statistics which are coming forth are worrisome leading us to staring at a possible mental health epidemic, said Vice-Chancellor.

Further, he urged for creating Neuroscience as a specialized branch in University and as its need of the hour amidst the growing mental illness.  Prof. Dhar proposed the MoU with the National Brain Research Centre shall be very helpful in creating a platform for strengthening research and innovation which was readily accepted by Prof. P. Mandal, Director, NBRC.

Prof. Pravat Kumar Mandal, Director, DBT-National Brain Research Centre, who is an expert in the research of Alzheimer's disease diagnostics using non-invasive methods like MRS and MRI gave an introductory note about the facilities and the expertise of the Neuroscience Centre at Manesar. Prof. Mandal showed the road map of the Institute and how National Brain Research Centre is solely dedicated to basic and translational Neuroscience and heartly invited students and faculties from Jammu and all over India for research opportunities.

Prof. Pankaj Seth, Scientist G, Coordinator of Brain Awareness Program run under the flagship of DBT-NBRC, who is an internationally reputed neurovirologist and works in the field of neuro AIDS was a keynote speaker. Research from his laboratory was in media for the significant contribution in understanding Zika in microcephaly in newborns, he shared mission and goals about the Brain Awareness Program. And many other outreach programs are done by DBT-NBRC. Further, showed the map of India with various states where these programs of Brain Awareness were held before and appreciated the initiative taken for the first time in the University of Jammu organised by the Department of Zoology and included J&K in the map for Brain Awareness Program.

Prof. Mark P Mattson, Department of Neuroscience, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, U. S. A, world-renowned international and national speakers, shared his seminal research work on the effects of intermittent fasting on cognition which is also widely popular in Indian religious practices and mentioned in our ancient scriptures.

Prof. Mattson is one of the highest cited scientists in the world with over 1 lakh 88 thousand citations and i10-index around 1000. He is considered one of the top scientists in his field in Neuroscience. Prof. Mattson emphasized how brain health and cognitive abilities can be enhanced with simple changes in our lifestyle. His research has proven the benefits of intermittent fasting at a cellular and molecular level and beneficial effects on overall health and increasing longevity.

In the series of guest speakers, Dr. Rajesh Sagar, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS New Delhi spoke about mental health, stereotypes, and social stigma, and discussed many community programs for mental health awareness nationally and internationally. He showed in his presentation the mental illness data due to Covid-19 and how the community should behave sensibly and combat mental stress during this tough time.

Dr. Sagar has published more than 300 international and national peer-reviewed papers and many books. He is an awardee of prestigious Rashtriya Gaurav Samman and many more accolades. He is involved in many awareness programs with IASC, Indian Psychiatry Society, and AIIMS.

Dr. Manu Arora, Head, Department of Psychiatry, Govt. Medical College Jammu, who is also a past member of J&K Psychiatry Society  spoke regarding many mental illnesses and elaborated on Depression, a very important and sensitive topic to be considered under mental illness and mental health. He further sensitized the participants regarding brain health. He mentioned various types of depression and the treatment methods used. Dr. Manu takes an active part in many community-based programs for Psychiatric illnesses and is a popular speaker about this field of expertise.

Earlier, Prof. Seema Langer Head, Department of Zoology, University of Jammu. presented a formal welcome address. A vote of thanks was presented by Dr Arti Sharma, Senior Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, JU.

The Brain Awareness Program proceedings were coordinated and conducted by Dr. Chinmoyee Maharana, Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Jammu.
During Valedictory proceedings, prizes won by the students in the various events conducted under Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav (14, 15 August) and a Brain awareness program was also announced. Students actively participated in various competitions on Rangoli, poster making, patriotic songs organized for celebrating Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav and, Brain Quiz and Creative Brain Artwork organized under Brain Awareness Program. This program was a success with positive feedback from the diverse participants and audience from various Universities, Colleges, Schools, Research Institutions, CRO's and Biotech Industries from India and abroad.

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