Neuroscience Club Welcomes Dr. Bryan Winn
Dr. W. Bryan Winn, MD (Chemical Engineering ’94), a BYU alumnus and radiologist who works in Anchorage, Alaska, recently met with the Neuroscience Club. He drew a crowd of around 100 students who wanted to learn about future career opportunities. The Neuroscience Club aims to provide neuroscience undergraduate students with opportunities to explore career options and prepare for medical school. This "Food for Thought" event, where the club hosts a neuroscience speaker and provides food, is one of many activities the club will conduct in the coming months.
Sydney Stephens (NEURO ’24), one of the students who helped with the event’s inception, said that “[it was] beneficial for club members to hear from a physician with a more unique role in neuroscience. We typically only think of neurosurgery or neurology when discussing neuroscience in medicine, but in reality neuroscience plays a vital role in much more than that.”
As a neuroradiologist, Winn studies brain, spine, head, and neck images to look for abnormalities. The students were amazed at the plethora of techniques that Winn uses to capture such images. Some were more ancient, like pneumoencephalography—a method accomplished by spinning a patient after injecting the thecal sac with air to outline the brain and spinal cord. One technique that drew particular amazement was computerized tomography (CT), which can identify foreign bodies in the brain. Winn showed an example of a patient who had a run-in with a nail gun and distinguished each nail from brain tissue.
“Listening to Dr. Winn’s presentation proved there are endless possibilities to pursue after getting a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. It was shocking to see the stark differences in neuroimaging today versus just 50 years ago, and it got me excited for what the next wave of neuroscientists and physicians in neuroscience-related fields will accomplish. It was the perfect activity for those interested in pursuing either medicine or a career in neuroscience,” said club president Bryson Reed (NEURO ’24).
Through the lecture, Winn informed the students what they could expect in a neuroradiology career. He showed them how to safely work with radiation as well as with MRIs. Radiologists are at risk for radiation injury; the radiation associated with image-guided procedures can damage skin and internal organs. Some early radiologists even died prematurely because they did not take proper precautions. He articulated how the field now tracks how much radiation a professional receives and limits the number of hours they can work.
After learning what to expect in the field of neuroradiology, Isabella Roque (NEURO ’24) said the following: “I loved hearing from Dr. Winn! The event helped me understand the daily routine of a neuroradiologist and helped me feel more prepared for the medical training process.”
Winn encouraged students to consider neuroradiology because it allows for a healthier work-life balance than most other neuroscience professions. He shared how time with his family benefited his career with an anecdote about how a note from one of his kids helped him through particularly trying days and motivated him to press forward. He encouraged the students to similarly rely on their families for strength to persevere.
The event itself was a success to the students involved in its creation. “It was amazing to learn about a career in medicine and neuroscience that I hadn’t even considered but now greatly interests me... I’m glad I went because I’ll remember that for life,” says Zach Fiore (NEURO ’25).