Lifelong health is determined by more than just our genes: experiences early in life and at other sensitive periods of development can affect our brains in ways that may impact our health as we grow older. This knowledge has important implications for both policy and practice, but despite its significance, the science behind early brain development is not widely disseminated. Front-line staff may be unfamiliar with recent advances in the field, while parents have little exposure to the science underlying the growth of their children's brains.
The Palix Foundation seeks to bridge this gap. In 2010 the foundation began disseminating the Brain Story, a narrative framework that makes scientific knowledge about early brain development accessible to policy-makers, practitioners and the public. Developed by the FrameWorks Institute and the National Scientific Council of the Developing Child, the Brain Story is shared via tools, resources and a certification course, with the aim of building resilience in families and communities around the world.
With the foundation's support, a team of researchers at Oxford will now work to embed the Brain Story locally and beyond. Under the leadership of Alan Stein, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University, the team will develop a programme to explore and evaluate different ways of implementing the Brain Story, thus maximising its reach and impact.
The gift will also enable the creation of the Oxford Brain Story Network. Through lectures and workshops, the network will support scientists, experts and practitioners in learning about the Brain Story, equipping them to share their knowledge with members of the public and, crucially, influence treatment, education and policy.
Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, says: 'We are deeply appreciative to the Palix Foundation for this generous gift, which will support our endeavours to improve outcomes for children and families, especially in the areas of emotional and cognitive development. We now look forward to establishing the Oxford Brain Story Network and extending the fantastic work that the foundation has already accomplished into Oxfordshire and beyond.'
Nancy Mannix, Chair and Patron of the Palix Foundation, adds: 'This is an exciting opportunity for the foundation to partner with Oxford University to accelerate the dissemination of the Brain Story in policy and practice. The Brain Story has created exceptional value for practitioners and the public to better understand the mechanisms of brain development and the implications for mental health and addiction. Creating and delivering a common knowledge base and common language is the key to delivering prevention, treatment and recovery services across platforms that will create an integrated response for families.
'The foundation is honoured to have this opportunity to work alongside Oxford University to enable the transformation of the understanding of child development, mental health and addiction in order to provide better outcomes for children, families and communities.'