NFL al­lo­cates al­most $24m to fund re­search

Sunday News - - NFL - MARK MASKE

THE NFL has re­al­lo­cated more than US$17 mil­lion ($23.7m) of fund­ing for re­search into con­cus­sions and the ef­fects of brain in­juries af­ter a dis­pute last year re­lated to fund­ing for re­search by the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health.

The fund­ing now will be di­vided among re­search done by the Depart­ment of De­fence, TRACK-TBI (a study funded by NIH) and the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ag­ing, a branch of NIH, ac­cord­ing to the NFL.

‘‘We know this is the type of work we need to bet­ter our un­der­stand­ing of th­ese dis­eases,’’ Allen Sills, the league’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, said yes­ter­day. ‘‘Th­ese con­tri­bu­tions are cer­tainly go­ing to re­sult in im­proved un­der­stand­ing.’’

The NFL’s con­tri­bu­tion in­cludes US$7.65m each to the Depart­ment of De­fence and TRACK-TBI (Trans­form­ing Re­search and Clin­i­cal Knowl­edge in Trau­matic Brain In­jury) and US$2.25m to the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Age­ing, ac­cord­ing to the league.

‘‘Th­ese re­search ini­tia­tives rep­re­sent im­por­tant sci­en­tific projects, with proven track records of achieve­ment that af­fect pub­lic health,’’ the NFL said. ‘‘Each of th­ese re­search pro­grammes re­ceives sub­stan­tial fed­eral fund­ing. Through this com­mit­ment, the league hopes to ad­vance the un­der­stand­ing of con­cus­sion and other brain in­juries, es­pe­cially among ath­letes and vet­er­ans.’’

The new fund­ing com­mit­ments come af­ter the NFL was in­volved in con­tro­versy and scru­ti­nised by mem­bers of Congress over a pre­vi­ous com­mit­ment to NIH re­search.

Un­der a 2012 agree­ment, the NFL was to pro­vide US$30m to sup­port NIH re­search into brain in­juries and other med­i­cal con­di­tions af­fect­ing ath­letes through the Sports Health and Re­search Pro­gramme.

That agree­ment with the Foun­da­tion for the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health ex­pired last Au­gust. Last July, just be­fore the ex­pi­ra­tion, Demo­cratic mem­bers of the House Com­mit­tee on En­ergy and Com­merce wrote a let­ter to NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell ask­ing whether the league in­tended to ful­fill its com­mit­ment. The law­mak­ers said there re­mained US$18m of that pledged com­mit­ment that had not been pro­vided to re­search projects.

Most of that was at­trib­ut­able to a US$16.3m fund­ing com­mit­ment by the NFL to a US$17.5m study by Bos­ton Univer­sity re­searcher Robert Stern that in­stead was funded by NIH.

A 2016 study by Demo­cratic mem­bers of the same House com­mit­tee al­leged that the league and its head, neck and spine com­mit­tee tried to in­flu­ence that study by at­tempt­ing to steer the re­search to some­one with ties to the NFL. The league de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing it raised con­cerns ap­pro­pri­ately and through proper chan­nels. The Wash­ing­ton Post GETTY IM­AGES

We know this is the type of work we need to bet­ter our un­der­stand­ing of th­ese dis­eases.’ NFL CHIEF MED­I­CAL OF­FI­CER ALLEN SILLS

Tom Sav­age of the Hous­ton Tex­ans has suf­fered from con­cus­sion.

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