The National Football League has assembled a Scientific Advisory Board comprising leading independent experts, doctors, scientists and clinicians to develop and lead a clear process to identify and support compelling proposals for scientific research.

The establishment of the NFL’s Scientific Advisory Board follows the launch of the new Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative that Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in September. As part of the initiative, the NFL has allotted $100 million for medical research and engineering advancements, including $40 million in funding for medical research over the next five years, primarily dedicated to neuroscience.

The board will develop a process for soliciting, reviewing and evaluating research proposals and directing funding. The board will leverage the expertise of the NFL’s medical committee members, including members of the Head, Neck and Spine Committee, to identify and develop research priorities.

The board will provide its recommendations to Dr. Betsy Nabel, the NFL’s chief health and medical advisor. “We have assembled an impressive group of experts to advise the NFL’s future medical and scientific research investments,” Dr. Nabel told USA Today and the Associated Press. “We are grateful for the expertise the Scientific Advisory Board will provide the NFL as it prepares to support important new research.”

The NFL’s Scientific Advisory Board includes:

General Peter Chiarelli (Retired.), Chairman: General Chiarelli, U.S. Army General (Retired), is Chief Executive Officer of
One Mind, a brain illness related non-profit organization who works with members in the governmental, corporate, scientific and philanthropic communities to greatly accelerate large-scale research through “Open Science” data sharing and collaboration. One Mind’s current focus is on a new approach to diagnose, treat and cure post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). He is a retired General with almost 40 years of experience. As the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, he led the Department of Defense efforts on post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and suicide prevention. In this role, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Army and its 1.1 million active and reserve soldiers, including the oversight of many of the Army’s R&D programs, and the implementation of recommendations related to its behavioral health programs, specifically its Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Program. In 2013, Chiarelli received the Patriot Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s highest honor for his work to help soldiers and families suffering from the invisible wounds of war.

David Hovda, Ph.D.: Dr. Hovda is the Director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. He is Past President of the National Neurotrauma and International Neurotrauma Societies. He has served as Chair of study sections for the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS). He has received a number of awards for his research on brain injury and recovery of function, including the 1991 National Head Injury Foundation Award, the Giannini Foundation Award, the Benjamin Franklin Haught Memorial Award, the 2008 Deborah L. Warden Lectureship Award and named the Lind Lawrence Eminent Scholar for his work on the topic of Traumatic Brain Injury. In 2011, the Secretary of the Army presented Dr. Hovda the “Strength of the Nation Award”, the highest award given to a civilian from the United States Army, in recognition of Dr. Hovda’s efforts to help military personnel suffering from mild traumatic brain injury returning from theater. Dr. Hovda is internationally known for his translational work on the pathobiology of traumatic brain injury and has devoted most of his career to understanding the mechanisms of recovery of function.

Douglas H. Smith, M.D.: Dr. Smith serves as Director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair and is the Robert A. Groff Endowed Professor and Vice Chairman for Research and Education in Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Smith is also the Scientific Director for the Big 10/ Ivy League consortium on concussion. For research awards, he is director of several multi-center National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense grants on concussion and TBI-induced neurodegeneration, as well as for an NIH training grant on brain injury. His group has demonstrated that damage to the brain’s network, called “diffuse axonal injury,” is a fundamental mechanism of concussion. This has led to the development of diagnostic tools to identify concussed individuals who will have poor outcomes. In addition, his group has discovered mechanisms of concussion and more severe TBI that lead to progressive neurodegeneration, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Recent scientific awards for these contributions include the Dorothy Russell Medal, the highest honor conveyed by the British Neuropathological Society.

David J. Shulkin, M.D.: The Honorable Dr. David J. Shulkin is Under Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. As the Chief Executive of the Veterans Health Administration, Dr. Shulkin leads the nation’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million Veterans each year. The Veterans Health Administration is also the nation’s largest provider of graduate medical education and major contributor of medical research. Dr. Shulkin oversees the health system that employs over 300,000 people. Prior to being nominated by President Obama and being confirmed by the United States Senate as Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shulkin served in numerous chief executive roles including serving as President at Morristown Medical Center, Goryeb Children’s Hospital and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, and the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization. Dr. Shulkin also previously served as President and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. As an entrepreneur, Dr. Shulkin founded and served as the Chairman and CEO of DoctorQuality one of the first consumer-oriented sources of information for quality and safety in healthcare.

Colonel Sidney Hinds, M.D., M.C.: Colonel Hinds is a Brain Health Research Program Coordinator at the Department of Defense, where he coordinates neurological and psychological protection, prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation research as it pertains to blast injury. He previously served as the national director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), which serves active duty military and veterans with traumatic brain injury through state-of-the-art medical care and care coordination, and innovative clinical research and educational programs. Before that, he was the deputy director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute for Military Medical Operations, the theater neurologist in Afghanistan, and chief of Nuclear Medicine Services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. While deployed to Afghanistan from February to July 2012, he oversaw standardization of care at 11 concussion care centers as the theater neurology consultant.

Shelly D. Timmons, M.D., Ph.D.: Dr. Timmons serves as Director of Neurotrauma, Vice Chair for the Administration Department of Neurosurgery, and Professor of Neurosurgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. She has been a clinical researcher for a number of years, and has participated as principal investigator in numerous clinical trials related to traumatic brain injury. She has published and lectured on a variety of topics related to traumatic brain injury, neurocritical care, spinal cord injury, blunt vascular injury, and health care delivery throughout her career. She has held a variety of professional organizational positions, including Director-at-Large for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Board of Directors, Chair of the Section on Neurotrauma and Neurocritical Care of the AANS and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), Governor and Chair of the Neurosurgery Advisory Council of the American College of Surgeons, and Scientific Counsellor for the Centers for Disease Control Center for Injury Control and Prevention.

For more information about Play Smart. Play Safe and to read the Commissioner’s letter to fans, please visit http://www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com.

For more information on the NFL’s Commitment to Medical Research, please visit https://www.playsmartplaysafe.com/focus-on-safety/pillars/medical-research/.

In other NFL-health news…

The NFL Foundation, in collaboration with Gatorade, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), this week announced the launch of a pilot program to provide funding to public high schools with football programs that have limited or no access to an athletic trainer. This program is an expansion of the athletic trainer initiatives developed and implemented by the NFL Foundation and its partners over the past two years.

The NFL Foundation will award up to 150 grants to high schools in the four pilot states. Each grant will be in the amount of $35,000 awarded over a three-year period to fund an athletic training program. The number of grants provided will be at the discretion of an appointed review panel.

“The NFL is committed to enhancing the safety of football at all levels,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are proud of the important work that athletic trainers do on the sidelines and in training facilities nationwide. We look forward to testing this pilot program as part of our effort to increase access to athletic trainers in local communities and improve sports safety for many more young athletes.”

“The NFL Foundation is proud that this athletic trainer pilot program, one that was originally developed at the club level, is expanding to serve more young athletes,” said NFL Foundation Chairman Charlotte Jones Anderson. “NFL teams have long seen the value of athletic trainers’ knowledge, and experience when it comes to health and safety and this program will help provide that same expertise at the high school level.”

An athletic trainer is a licensed medical professional who has specific expertise in preventing, recognizing, treating and rehabilitating athletic injuries. However, nearly two-thirds of high schools across the country lack a full-time athletic trainer and almost thirty percent of high schools do not have any athletic trainer at all. This pilot program will test ways in which to address this issue.

“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is committed to enhancing the quality of health care that young athletes receive through access to athletic trainers,” said NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC. “Together, we can ensure best practices are put in place in underserved schools, to reduce risk of injury and make sports safer for all communities.”

This pilot program builds on the NFL Foundation’s athletic trainer grant program established two years ago to help NFL teams increase access to athletic trainers in their communities. To date, 20 NFL clubs have utilized these grants to support local schools and leagues. This program has underscored the need for funding for athletic trainers and provided useful insight into potential methods of addressing this need.

“For more than 50 years, we’ve been committed to athletes’ safety, performance and success – and based on this experience, we know how important athletic trainers are to our mission,” said Jeff Kearney, head of Gatorade Sports Marketing. “We’re excited to build on the success of our 2015 efforts and believe this program is an important part of our overall commitment to helping ensure the safety of the more than eight million high school athletes in the U.S.”

The Korey Stringer Institute will lead the administration of the grant program and conduct research to assess the impact of the pilot program and the effect of athletic trainers on student athlete health outcomes.

“The massive responsibility of keeping many hundreds of athletes safe at a particular high school should never be the responsibility of a sport coach or the athletic director, they have no training to properly handle this task,” said KSI Chief Executive Officer Douglas Casa, PhD, ATC, FNAK, FACSM, FNATA. “We are very proud to partner with this grant program that has a primary goal of increasing the number of schools serviced by an athletic trainer and to enhance the amount of medical care for those that already have some.”

“The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society is proud to partner with the NFL Foundation, NATA and Gatorade to increase the number of athletic trainers available to high school students across the country,” said Rick Burkholder, MS, ATC, PFATS president and head athletic trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Further information on the program and the grant process and eligibility can be found at: http://www.athletictrainergrant.com.

About The NFL Foundation: The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football, and the communities that support our game. For more information on The NFL Foundation, visit: http://www.NFLFoundation.org.

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport – Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 44,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit http://www.nata.org. To learn more about how athletic trainers are uniquely qualified to mitigate risk visit http://www.atyourownrisk.org, NATA’s public awareness campaign designed to educate, provide resources and equip the public to act and advocate for safety in work, life and sport.

About Gatorade: The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), provides sports performance innovations designed to meet the needs of athletes at all competitive levels and across a broad range of sports. Backed by a 50 year history of studying the best athletes in the world and grounded in years of hydration and sports nutrition research at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Gatorade provides scientifically formulated products to meet the sports fueling needs of athletes in all phases of athletic activity. For more information and a full list of products, please visit http://www.gatorade.com.

About KSI: The Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) is housed in the Department of Kinesiology within the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut (UConn). UConn’s Department of Kinesiology has a strong tradition and reputation as one of the leading institutions studying health and safety issues for athletes and the physically active. The mission of KSI is to provide research, education, advocacy and consultation to maximize performance, optimize safety and prevent sudden death for the athlete, soldier and laborer. For more information, visit: http://www.ksi.uconn.edu.

About PFATS: The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) is a Professional Association representing the athletic trainers of the National Football League. We serve the players of the NFL, the member Clubs and other members of the community.  Our purpose is to insure the highest quality of health care is provided to the National Football League. We are dedicated to the welfare of our members and committed to the promotion and advancement of athletic training through education and research.  The Society is founded on the professional integrity and the ethical standards of our members and the fellowship that exists among us. “PFATS cares to make a difference.”

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