November 18, 2020

Vote for WSU video in Science Coalition competition by Nov. 23

The Wayne State University School of Medicine community has an opportunity to vote for a medical student-produced video in the Science Coalition’s Fund it Forward Student Video Challenge.

The video, submitted by Aneesh Hehr, a second-year medical student who plans to go into Psychiatry, promotes the importance of federal research funding by highlighting the Trauma History Investigation of Neurodevelopment in Kids, or THINK Lab.

In addition to Hehr, the team behind the video includes Amanpreet Bhogal, who received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Wayne State University, and Hilary Marusak, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

The Science Coalition conducted the online challenge, which called upon students to created 60- to 90-second videos explaining their research, and to remind Congress of the value in investing in

Aneesh Hehr and Amanpreet Bhogal


You can view and vote for the video in the People’s Choice competition here.

Votes can be cast through Nov. 23, with winners announced Dec. 7. The winner receives $500.

“We focus on the impact of stress and trauma during childhood on brain development, alongside pediatric anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Hehr and Bhogal said of the THINK Lab. “In addition to mapping out the neural mechanisms underlying psychiatric conditions, our research is informing the development of interventions that can be implemented early on in a child's life. Our goal is to learn how to minimize the effects of stress and trauma so children do not suffer the consequences of psychopathology later on in their development.”

Another reason behind the video, Hehr and Bhogal noted, is a “recent wave of mistrust in science that has undermined the public’s confidence in researchers and clinicians. In order to address these concerns,  we need initiatives like the Science Coalition to remind everyone why federal funding of research is important.”

The Science Coalition plans to share the videos with congressional staff and members of Congress representing the states and districts of the winners to emphasize the importance of federal research funding.

“We hope that our video conveys the importance of funding for mental health-related research, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hehr and Bhogal said. “Children are being exposed to different forms of stress due to social isolation and fear of the virus itself. We need to understand how these challenges affect children on a neural and behavioral level so that we can develop interventions accordingly. Additionally, we hope this can inspire more individuals outside of academia to get involved in research in one way or another.”

Established in 1994, the Science Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. The coalition is dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s investment in fundamental scientific research to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive American competitiveness.