Early Brain Development and Function Are Focus of 2014 Norfleet Forum for the Advancement of Health

CANDLE Study and the Neuroscience Institute at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center Partner with The Urban Child Institute for Brain Awareness Event

Astronomer, astrophysicist and cosmologist Carl Sagan said, “The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good. Understanding is joyous.” How we set the human brain on the right track in its earliest stages and what that means for human growth and development are the focus of the 2014 Norfleet Forum for the Advancement of Health. The one-day forum titled, “Early Brain Development and Function: Impact on Social and Health Outcomes,” will be held on Thursday, March 20, at the FedEx Institute of Technology on the University of Memphis campus.

The event is open to the general public, health care workers and researchers for a $25 registration fee. Industry professionals are eligible to receive AMA PRA Category 1CreditsTM , ANCC as well as continuing education credits for participation in the forum.

A March 19 pre-conference workshop, designed for industry professionals, will focus on the assessment of cognitive function using computer-based tools. The Norfleet Forum will be a daylong event, complete with speakers and a panel discussion. The agenda will encompass presentations on a range of topics that revolve around brain development and its implications for academic success, employment and chronic disease. Among the speakers are: Nathan Fox, PhD, University of Maryland, and Clancy Blair, PhD, New York University. Dr. Fox’s work focuses on early intervention on children’s cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development. He has done interventions on orphans in Romania. Dr. Blair’s primary interest concerns the development of cognitive abilities, referred to as executive functions, and the ways in which these aspects of cognition are important for school readiness and early school achievement.

The Norfleet Forum will provide important information for researchers and health care workers as to what is and what is not known, and underscore the importance of early intervention to improve the social capital of Memphis and Shelby County. To register for the forum, visit: http://urbanchildinstitute.org/brain-awareness-2014. For information on why we focus on brain development and the implications it has for academic success, employment and chronic disease, visit: http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/why-0-3/baby-and-brain.

On March 20 from 5:30 to 8 p.m., the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Neuroscience  Institute and The Urban Child Institute will host a 30-minute reception, followed by a two-hour Brain Awareness discussion. This free evening event, which is open to the public, will be held at 600 Jefferson, with adjacent free parking. Several Norfleet Forum speakers will also participate in this public event. Seating is limited and requires registration by contacting Susan Day at The Urban Child Institute at 901-385-4242 or Sday@theurbanchildinstitute.org.

The CANDLE study in the Department of Preventive Medicine at UT Health Science Center is working in tandem with The Urban Child Institute (TUCI) to support the 2014 Norfleet Forum. CANDLE – which stands for Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early Childhood – is an observational research study of the development and ability to learn in children from birth to age three. Since its launch in 2006, CANDLE has operated in partnership with TUCI to enroll 1,503 pregnant women in Shelby County. The study follows those women and their children for three years.

Through ongoing interactions, they collect valuable information and biological samples from both mother and child, learning about their home environment, prenatal care, sleeping habits and nutrition. With the data the CANDLE study collects – and a little help down the road from the school systems – researchers hope to draw some conclusions about what makes the most difference in a child’s life and, ultimately, where resources should be allocated.

The Frank M. Norfleet Executive Forum on Health and this year’s topic, Early Brain Development and Function, are made possible through generous local support by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. The Community Foundation’s Norfleet Forum for the Advancement of Health Fund is an endowed fund created in 1979 with a gift from Dunbar Abston, Sr., in honor of Frank M. Norfleet. The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) Department of Preventive Medicine and the UTHSC Neuroscience Institute are proud to collaborate with The Urban Child Institute and the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis to present this year’s 25th Frank M. Norfleet Executive Forum on Health.  

About The Urban Child Institute

The Urban Child Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the well-being and health of children from conception to age three in Memphis and Shelby County. It is a data-driven, results-oriented coalition of researchers, strategists, practitioners, parents, and community members dedicated to turning knowledge and research into measurable change. The Institute works to achieve this vision by advocating for public policies that are in the best interests of the children in our community.

It strives to be a recognized leader in child advocacy research, a trustworthy community partner and a home for expertise, advice, and collaboration for those who want to improve the lives of children in Memphis and Shelby County. For more information, visit www.urbanchildinstitute.org.