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The NIH recently announced eight research projects to study traumatic brain injury, funded largely by a donation from the NFL.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected eight projects to receive support to answer some of the most fundamental problems on traumatic brain injury, including understanding long-term effects of repeated head injuries and improving diagnosis of concussions.
Funding is provided by the Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP), a partnership among the NIH, the National Football League (NFL), and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). In 2012, the NFL donated $30 million to FNIH for research studies on injuries affecting athletes, with brain trauma being the primary area of focus.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health problem that affects all age groups and is the leading cause of death in young adults. Recently, concern has been raised about the potential long-term effects of repeated concussion, particularly in those most at risk: young athletes and those engaged in professions associated with frequent head injury, including men and women in the military. Current tests cannot reliably identify concussions, and there is no way to predict who will recover quickly, who will suffer long-term symptoms, and which few individuals will develop progressive brain degeneration, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Story Landis, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of NIH, said:
We need to be able to predict which patterns of injury are rapidly reversible and which are not. This program will help researchers get closer to answering some of the important questions about concussion for our youth who play sports and their parents.
Two ($6 million each) are large, cooperative agreements focused on defining the scope of long-term changes that occur in the brain years after a head injury or after multiple concussions. The cooperative awards form a partnership between NINDS, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and multiple academic medical centers.
NIH also will fund six pilot projects totaling just over $2 million that will last up to two years and are designed to provide support for the early stages of sports-related concussion projects. If the early results are encouraging, they may become the basis of more comprehensive projects. The NIH institutes responsible for managing these grants are NINDS, NICHD, and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
The eight projects were selected by the NIH following a rigorous scientific review process.
The cooperative awards bring together two teams of independent scientists to study and compare the brains of donors who were at high or low risk for developing long-term effects of TBI. Ten neuropathologists from eight universities will coordinate to describe the chronic effects of head injury in tissue from hundreds of individuals in order to develop standards for diagnosis.
The project includes four teams that will correlate brain scans with changes in brain tissue, using a variety of techniques. This may open the possibility of using these advanced brain imaging techniques to diagnose chronic effects of TBI in living individuals. The investigators in the two projects will also help NIH develop a registry dedicated to enrolling individuals with a history of TBI who are interested in donating brain and spinal cord tissue for study after their death. The new NIH Neurobiobank will coordinate the tissue collection, data gathering, and also distribute biospecimens, along with relevant information to enable other scientists to access this valuable tissue.
For details on each of the projects, see the full press release.
Source: NIH News