NFL advisor Ellenbogen cleared of wrongdoing by university

Back in July, the University of Washington formed a panel to review the conduct of Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, the co-chairman of the NFL's head, neck and spine committee. Ellenbogen came under fire from a U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce staff report in May that stated he advocated for the removal of grant money from a researcher at Boston University who was once critical of the league's stance on concussions.

The University of Washington, which employs Ellenbogen as the Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery, cleared him of any wrongdoing Friday.

"It is the conclusion of the review committee that Dr. Ellenbogen did not attempt in any improper way to influence the selection or award process for the (National Institutes of Health) research grant to be funded by the NFL or otherwise violate any applicable or generally accepted ethical standards in his work on behalf of the HNS committee," the panel concluded in its report. "Rather, he worked (although unsuccessfully) to obtain additional funding for additional research. Accordingly, we do not recommend that you take any action regarding Dr. Ellenbogen related to this matter."

The NFL released a statement about the decision.

Dr. Richard Ellenbogen is one of the foremost authorities and accomplished leaders in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injuries. We commend Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, executive vice president for medical affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Washington for executing a fair and balanced review of the congressional minority staff report.

We are grateful to have Dr. Ellenbogen serve as co-chairman of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee, where he advises the league on the best care and safety measures possible for its players. He has helped drive nearly $100 million into research to advance the understanding of head trauma, including CTE. The resulting discoveries are making a tremendous impact on football players of all ages and ultimately on safety in all sports.

Dr. Ellenbogen's leading priority is enacting protections to keep children safe. As Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center Member, he treated Zachary Lystedt for a severe brain injury suffered after returning to play during a game in which he had experienced an undiagnosed concussion. Afterward, Dr. Ellenbogen successfully advocated for enactment of strict return-to-play laws -- known as the Lystedt Laws -- in all 50 states. This law is a critical factor in helping to protect other young athletes from returning to play too soon after a concussion.

A man of esteemed merit, Dr. Ellenbogen has selflessly dedicated his life to science and service. He is a physician on the front lines of this issue, every day working to advance the understanding, prevention and treatment of head injuries.

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