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Copyright 2018 News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)
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News & Record (Greensboro, North Carolina)


NEW YORK - The NFL is awarding more than $35 million to five organizations conducting research into diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries.

A multi-institution team including the University of North Carolina, has received a $14.7 million grant from the NFL to study potential long-term neurologic health consequences of concussions and sub-concussive injuries suffered by former NFL players. Boston Children's Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University Orthopedic Center-State College, Pa., join UNC in the study.

It will be the largest cohort of former NFL players ever studied.

Also receiving money will be:

The University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, $6,070,384 to its "Prevalence of Brain Health versus Neurodegeneration in Professional Football Retirees" work.The University of Calgary, led by Dr. Carolyn Emery, $9,438,473 to "Surveillance in High Schools to Reduce Concussions in Youth."The University of California-San Francisco, led by Dr. Geoff Manley, $3,454,080 to "Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI Longitudinal)."The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. Grant Iverson, $1,583,138 to "The Spectrum of Concussion: Predictors of Clinical Recovery, Treatment and Rehabilitation, and Possible Long-Term Effects."

Through its Scientific Advisory Board established as part of its "Play Smart. Play Safe" initiative, the NFL is awarding grants to investigative teams focusing on concussions and associated conditions, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The study will track up to 2,500 former NFL players previously surveyed in 2001 with annual follow-up health assessments. Two hundred of those former players who exhibit impairment will undergo repeated, detailed, in-person research evaluations. The researchers will assess for associations between clinical outcomes and abnormal tau protein buildup as well as examine other risk factors for neurologic health outcomes.

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 money will be distributed under the guidance of SAB Chairman Peter Chiarelli, a retired U.S. Army general who led the Department of Defense efforts on post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and suicide prevention.

"We saw their translational values," Chiarelli said Thursday. "(The grant winners) supplemented ongoing research that already showed great promise. We were focused on the patient, and of the eight that we asked to come back and brief us for 30 minutes and answer questions, these five had the greatest opportunity to help patients and to help understand and prevent injury in the future. That was our unified goal in picking the final five."

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November 16, 2018


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