The NFL today pledged $40 million in funding to five organizations conducting research into diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries.
It is part of the league’s 2016 $100 million ‘Play Smart. Play Safe’ initiative to investigate neurodegenerative diseases to demonstrate that they are seriously concerned about players’ safety.
Of that, $60 million has been put towards studies to develop protective equipment like pads and better helmets, and the rest was reserved for neuroscience and related research into diseases including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Today, the league revealed Boston Children’s Hospital will receive the biggest lump sum – of $14.7 million – followed by teams in Pittsburgh, Calgary, San Francisco, and another Boston-based rehab.
It is a big show of dedication from the NFL, which was mired in controversy in August 2017 after a separate funding deal with the National Institutes of Health fell through.
The five new awards are part of the league’s 2016 $100 million ‘Play Smart. Play Safe’ pledge to investigate brain diseases to show that they are seriously concerned about players’ safety
The league had dedicated $30 million to NIH-funded research teams, which included Boston University’s CTE unit, where neuroscientists have examined the brains of top former players, now deceased, including Junior Seau and Aaron Hernandez, both of whom had committed suicide and were diagnosed with CTE at BU.
Rumors abounded that the NFL had issues with led researcher Dr Robert Stern’s critical stance on football as a game.
By summer of 2017, less than half of the NFL’s pledged $30 million had been spent on NIH studies but the league (deliberately) missed the deadline to renew the partnership.
Since, Dr Stern has won separate NIH funding.
WHO GOT THE NEW NFL AWARDS?
The biggest lump sum will go to Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. William P Meehan III. Dr Meehan’s team will receive $14,698,132 to carry out a prospective, LONGitudinal and translational study of former National Football League players.
The second largest award goes to Dr. Carolyn Emery’s team at the University of Calgary. With $9,438,473, Dr Emergy will conduct a study called ‘Surveillance in High Schools to Reduce Concussions in Youth.’
The University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center received $6,070,384 for its ‘Prevalence of Brain Health versus Neurodegeneration in Professional Football Retirees’ work.
The University of California-San Francisco, led by Dr. Geoff Manley, received $3,454,080 for ‘Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI Longitudinal).’
Finally, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. Grant Iverson, got $1,583,138 for its study titled ‘The Spectrum of Concussion: Predictors of Clinical Recovery, Treatment and Rehabilitation, and Possible Long-Term Effects.’
Having awarded $35 million of the NFL’s $40 million commitment made in 2016, the league has allocated the remaining $5 million to further medical research focused on player health and safety.
The funds will be distributed under the guidance of SAB Chairman Gen. Peter Chiarelli, a retired US Army general who led the Department of Defense efforts on post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and suicide prevention.