NFL awards grants to Hopkins, others to tackle concussions

January 23, 2014|By Meredith Cohn

Johns Hopkins University will share in a $20 million award from GE and the National Football League to improve diagnosis and treatment for concussions, which has become a major focus as more is learned about the lasting effects of mild traumatic brain injury.

The grants aim to benefit professional football players, who have been seeking compensation for their injuries and means to reduce problems. The grants also will benefit the community as a whole, officials said. Each grant recipient will receive $300,000.

Hopkins plans to use a brain imaging scan called positron emission tomography to study markers in the brains of active NFL players. They will look for molecular changes to determine if they are linked to depression and memory deficits from repeat head trauma.

Hopkins will also work with commercial research partner ImmunArray to develop a blood-based concussion test to look for biomarkers associated with the trauma. This could give teams a more immediate diagnosis of concussion.

There were 400 grant proposals as part of the “Head Health Challenge,” officials said.

“These studies hold the promise of advancing brain science in important ways,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a statement. “The health and safety of our players is our top priority, and this challenge extends that commitment to the general population as well. We hope the innovative approaches proposed by these winners will have a lasting impact on the treatment of head injuries.”

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