Education & Outreach


The Center has three specific and interrelated goals designed to advance NIAAA's mission of translating and disseminating research findings to health care providers, researchers, policy-makers and the public. These aims also support the Oregon Health & Science University's mission of healing, teaching, research and community service.

K-12 Education & Outreach

The principal goal is to provide K-12th grade students and their teachers with information about alcohol, the brain, and neuroscience. Age-appropriate activities illustrate how the brain works and how alcohol can affect it.

Training in Alcohol Research

PARC scientists, some for more than 30 years, provide training and laboratory experience in alcohol research to high school, undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students.

Dissemination of Research Findings

We coordinate and share the findings of the Center, and alcohol research results in general, with scientific colleagues and the broader community. Toward this aim, PARC scientists serve as a resource of expertise in the interpretation of scientific advances in alcoholism research.

To work toward these core goals, PARC scientists get involved in a number of events in the community each year. Among these are:

Brain Awareness Season
Elementary schools: Of Brains and Safety: Neuroscience for K-3
Middle Schools: The Biology of Alcohol
High Schools: Alcohol and Health, Science, Careers, & Athletics
Traveling Neuroscience Fair: Health & Science Oregon
Community Alcohol Information & Screening Events

"Tell Your Story! A Media and Communications Guide for Scientists"

In order to encourage and enable greater dissemination of research findings in the wider community, the PARC in collaboration with OHSU's NIDA-funded Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center (MARC)  has produced a free media guide that offers practical strategies and tools to help scientists share their work effectively with the media and in presentations to the general public. The guide is freely available for download here.

Please contact if you have any questions or comments regarding the aims and projects described on this page.

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k3somBrain Awareness Season

The PARC has been a seminal partner with OHSU in Brain Awareness events since Spring 2000. Historically, the PARC has provided funding, organizational support, and personnel for a variety of activities.

The Brain Awareness program is co-sponsored nationally by the Dana Alliance and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). OHSU has been recognized by the SfN as having one of the most extensive series of Brain Awareness events in the nation. These events include a public lecture series, a K-12 teachers' workshop, and a Brain Fair weekend in collaboration with the local Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI). A summary of Brain Awareness Season events for 2015 may be found at the OHSU Brain Awareness website.

Teacher Workshop: The PARC co-sponsored the university-wide workshop that provides K-12 science and health teachers from Oregon and southern Washington with NIAAA resources, and answers to questions about alcohol research and teaching alcohol-related topics in the classroom.

Brain Fair: PARC personnel and students organized and conducted hands-on neuroscience exhibits, which included an alcohol impairment simulation on hand-eye coordination. The Brain Fair attracts approximately 1000-1500 people of different ages per day.

k3brainsmarkElementary schools: Of Brains and Safety: Neuroscience for K-3

PARC educators present an age-appropriate, novel two-hour curriculum for children in kindergarten through 3rd grade that links neuroscience and safety. Of Brains and Safety introduces children to the human brain, the nervous system, and the effects of alcohol and drugs of abuse, and promotes ways of keeping their brains safe, especially out-of-doors. The hands-on curriculum engages young children's powerful thinking processes by focusing on their relative strengths to observe their surroundings, sort and classify what they observe, and then describe what they learned verbally, visually, or kinesthetically. Mark Rutledge-Gorman, PARC Education Director, and Donna Cynkar, a local Kindergarten teacher, developed the novel neuroscience and safety curriculum that was featured in the science education journal Primary Science Review (2004) 84:17-20. An electronic version of the curriculum is available for download, free to all.

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goggles011Middle Schools: The Biology of Alcohol

The foundation of this project is NIAAA's published middle school curriculum, "Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior". Presentations utilize classroom and web-based activities to examine the biology of how the body handles and responds to alcohol, from the cellular to behavioral levels. Students also take part in an alcohol impairment simulation which demonstrates alcohol effects on hand-eye coordination. To enhance further the usefulness of the curriculum, an Oregon middle school science teacher prepared an introduction for Oregon teachers on how the curriculum can help teachers and students meet the state's science education benchmarks. This program has proved most popular with health and physical education teachers whose classes reach all of a middle school's students.

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experimentHigh Schools: Alcohol and Health, Science, Careers, & Athletics

PARC graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, scientists, and lab staff make presentations to high school students at their local schools and when they visit or intern at OHSU. The presentations are adaptable to teacher and student interests, and can include segments on the neurogenetics of how the body responds to alcohol and other drugs, a hands-on alcohol impairment simulation, data collection during a web-based mock experiment of how genes can affect an organism's response to alcohol, career opportunities in neuroscience, and the biology of how alcohol can affect athletic training, performance, and recovery.

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drdrivsim011Traveling Neuroscience Fair: Health and Science Oregon

The Education Component has joined with OHSU's Oregon Clinical and Translational Science Institute (OCTRI), and Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program to bring research findings to rural communities.  A particular focus is to strengthen the connection with Native American tribal councils across the state. The interdisciplinary Let's Get Healthy! is a series of local health fairs focused on nutrition, diabetes, addiction and other topics. PARC presentations and exhibits cover diverse topics such as brain anatomy, neuron firing and plasticity, impulsivity, genetics, alcohol impairment, DNA, and behavioral testing.  We also present the K-3, Middle School, and High School curricula, described above, to students and teachers. The fairs seek to increase understanding of how the brain responds to alcohol and other substances, thereby helping people make better choices, enrich their lives, and avoid harm.

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nasdCommunity Alcohol Information & Screening Events

Since 2001, the PARC has been a sponsor of OHSU alcohol information and screening events, such as National Alcohol Screening Day. Alcohol use screenings and dissemination of alcohol and drug information have taken place on-campus at OHSU and at health fairs and other events in the community. The PARC presents a display on the Center's research and offers an alcohol impairment simulation activity.

National Alcohol Screening Day is supported by NIH and is organized nationally by Screening for Mental Health, a non-profit organization that also coordinates screening days for anxiety, mood, and eating disorders.

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