Creative Collaborations

An alumna and student developed a visual arts program about headaches; another alumna teamed up with President Beilock to study parents' impacts on children's math skills

By Leora Tanenbaum

Mia Minen ’03, MD, is chief of headache research at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. A clinician as well as a researcher, she and Alexandra Boubour ’19, a neuroscience and behavior major, developed a program called “Headache and Arts” that was featured in the May 2018 issue of the journal Neurology.

The pair created the program to teach high school students about migraines and concussions—two major and underrecognized public health problems prevalent among teens. Together, they provided structured materials for educators, including a curriculum and lesson plans.

The students taking part in the program each created works of art depicting pain or the neurologic symptoms associated with migraines or concussions, which they had learned about through the curriculum. The artwork has been exhibited at NYU Langone Medical Center. Students in the program also were asked to teach others what they have learned about migraines and concussions, serving as ambassadors to help disseminate important public health information.

Minen is a Columbia-trained neurologist who completed fellowships in both headache medicine and neuropsychiatry. She also holds a master’s degree from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. An expert mentor, Minen has sought out Barnard students for the last several years, enabling them to learn about clinical and epidemiological neurology research. To date, she has worked closely with six Barnard students and is currently conducting research with four more. Minen has included several of her Barnard students as coauthors on articles that have appeared in scientific journals such as Headache. Several of these students have also presented their research findings at the annual scientific meetings of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society.

Boubour has been working with Minen for the past two years. She wants to pursue a career that connects medicine, public health, education, and the humanities, drawing upon the knowledge she gained not only from working on the Headache and Arts Program with Minen, but also with New York City educators and high school students. •

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