Education News Patient Care

Washington University neurosurgeons’ PBS show explores wonders of the brain

The highly acclaimed BrainWorks, a theatrical production created by and starring Washington University School of Medicine neurosurgeons Eric C. Leuthardt, MD, and Albert H. Kim, MD, PhD, is now airing on PBS stations throughout the U.S.

BrainWorks explores the wonders of the human brain by dramatizing real-life neurological cases to reveal the science behind brain diseases including Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, brain tumors, and stroke.

The series is a collaboration between the two nationally renowned neurosurgeons, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University, and the Nine Network of Public Media. Kim and Leuthardt also teamed up with the New Dramatists to write each of the four episodes, which are based on patients the doctors have treated.

Drs. Kim and Leuthardt appear on KMOV’s Great Day St. Louis to discuss BrainWorks.

“We want to make people more informed patients,” said Leuthardt, chief of the Division of Neurotechnology and professor of neurological surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. “The more we can really convey those messages on a broader format, I think we’ve done our job. We didn’t want to make it obscure, there’s so much information packed in it. The TV show allows us to unpack it a little and go deeper into each of the diseases.”

Leuthardt and Kim’s journey into theatre began with their first BrainWorks production in 2015 which won a Regional Emmy award for Best Informational/Instructional Program. The one-hour special reached 500,000 people across Missouri and Illinois.

Creating unique and creative ways to connect people to the scientific process of brain functionality, Leuthardt and Kim are also co-hosts of The Brain Coffee Podcast, which unlocks life’s little mysteries about health, wellness, entertainment, technology and how the brain makes sense of it all.

Neurosurgeons Leuthardt and Kim work with playwrights to write the script for BrainWorks.
Drs. Leuthardt and Kim work with playwrights to write the script for BrainWorks.

Through the use of humor and emotion, BrainWorks tells personal stories that allow viewers to understand the complexities of the brain.

“The conversations we have with our patients about their care— what’s happening, the risk and the benefits— can become quite complex,” said Kim, director of the Brain Tumor Program and associate professor of neurological surgery, genetics, neurology and developmental biology. “Greater understanding becomes one way of healing. When we relay information in palpable and dramatic ways, it has the power to transform lives. It’s that kind of conversation Eric and I want to bring others through BrainWorks.

The show is available on nearly 40 PBS affiliate stations. St. Louis’ Nine Network of Public Media has just announced the show will be premiering on its station on Oct. 7 and Oct. 14.