17th Annual Center for Biomedical Neuroscience (CBN)
Brain Bowl Competition 


Congratulations to University of Texas at Arlington!

2017 Brain Bowl Champions!!

UTA 2017 Brain Bowl Champions

Cerebral undergrads go head to head in Brain Bowl 2017


On Tuesday evening, April 18th, 2017, undergraduate students from three Texas universities gathered, in an ordinary lecture hall at UT Health San Antonio, for an oddball tradition that has gained a devoted statewide following in its 17 years.


More than two dozen students from Trinity University, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Dallas, were peppered with questions from categories like “Neuroanatomy”, “Neurochemistry” and “Drugs and the Brain”.  Ahead of the competition, teams were given sample questions. Among them:

  • Name the most prevalent inhibitory amino acid transmitter in the brain.
  • Sensory projections from the lateral geniculate nucleus terminate in what area of the cortex?
  • What ion is primarily responsible for depolarization of the axon during an action potential?

(The handout describes these sample questions as “easier than most of the questions that will be asked”).


David A. Morilak, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience (CBN), who created the Brain Bowl and has masterminded it ever since with assistance from a brain trust of faculty and staff from the CBN, at UT Health San Antonio, is the Master of Cermonies.


Modeled on the 1960s quiz show “University Challenge,” the Brain Bowl includes three rounds of short-answer questions – each round more difficult than the last – and a final complex challenge question.


The Brain Bowl is a labor of love for Dr. Morilak, who begins planning each year’s competition almost six months beforehand.


He corresponds one-on-one with competitors, getting to know them well enough to introduce them – and perhaps tease them a little – at the event, which he presides over with a comedian’s patter and sense of timing. This year, he asked one student about his 'fun fact'...a hard worker that can multi-task...???, joked with one student about 'binge watching' movies over the summer and had one returning student 'freak people out' with an example of being double-jointed.


Dr. Morilak also secures corporate sponsors, who this year included: MP Biomedicals; Thermo Fischer; Stoelting Co.; VWR; The Society for Neuroscience and the Center for Biomedical Neuroscience, enlists a sometimes-raucous contingent of judges and scorekeepers and personally writes the 75+ Brain Bowl questions.


Teams compete for “the coveted Brain Bowl trophy”, prizes and bragging rights. The competition is also intended as a way for students interested in neuroscience to establish relationships with UT Health’s faculty and graduate students. Several Brain Bowl competitors have gone on to study at UT Health San Antonio.


Over the years, many Texas universities have participated in the Brain Bowl, sometimes traveling hours for the honor.  Past competitors include Baylor University, Southwestern University, St. Mary’s University, Texas A&M University, Texas Lutheran University, Trinity University, The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas at San Antonio.


After being bumped as champs in 2015, UT Arlington claimed the top spot once again! The UT Arlington Mavericks (pictured above), kept it close in the first couple rounds with opponents Trinity University and defending champions UT Dallas, but took the lead in the final round that they never relinquished. It came down to the challenge question and final wager, where UT Arlington held on to take the title. Congratulations to the 2017 Brain Bowl Champions, the UT Arlington Mavericks!!!


Watch the 2017 Brain Bowl Facebook Live broadcast.


Watch the FOX29 KABB San Antonio 'Street's Corner' story, with reporter JT Street, on the 2013 Brain Bowl. (click the video to play when the page loads)


View the GSBS Pipette Gazette Story


The 2017 Brain Bowl participants:

Trinity University University of Texas at Arlington University of Texas at Dallas
Dr. James Roberts (Faculty Mentor) Dr. Linda Perrotti (Faculty Mentor) Dr. Ted Price (Faculty Mentor)
Amy Grice Brandon Butler Alfarooq El-Eishy
Hannah Hall Ariel Elmore Carl Heinrich
Maria Jaramillo Josimar Hernandez Shrenevas Nandam
Adam Litch J.C. (John) Holt Eric Ramirez
Javan Stalls Jessica Tierney
Alyson Tukan

View the CBN Brain Bowl 2017 Photo Gallery