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NFL announces grants toward advancement of neuroscience

The NFL announced Friday it is granting a total of $16.3 million to three research projects focusing on neurodegenerative diseases.

The funding is part of the original $30 million investment allocated to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health for similar research. The league's five-year agreement with FNIH ended in August.

The league is donating $7.65 million to the U.S. Department of Defense's Concussion Assessment Research and Education Consortium Grand Alliance and another $7.65 million to the NIH-funded Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury initiative. The remaining $2.25 million will go to the National Institute of Aging.

"These research initiatives represent important scientific projects, with proven track records of achievement that affect public health," the league said in a statement. "Each of these research programs 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."

Here's a closer look at the three projects:

» $7.65 million to the Department of Defense: In collaboration with the NCAA, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) created the Concussion Assessment Research and Education ("CARE") Consortium Grand Alliance in 2014. This program monitors all athletes for concussive injuries at 30 university sites. To date, the investigators have collected information on more than 2000 concussions from 30,000 enrolled athletes and cadets. The investigators will follow this injured population prospectively in an effort to understand the effect of concussions on this very significantly sized population. This study has been funded by the NCAA and the DoD. More information can be found at www.careconsortium.net.

» In addition to athletes at the university centers across the country, the service academies are collecting information on all concussions among their cadet populations. This part of the program is known as the Service Academy Longitudinal mTBI Outcomes Study ("SALTOS"). The initial NFL contribution will support SALTOS before subsequent donations fund the CARE Consortium Grand Alliance.

» $7.65 million to support TRACK-TBI (Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI): This NIH funded study at 18 sites around the United States collects detailed information on patients with head injuries and their outcomes. The study uses advanced imaging techniques and collects significant biological information as well. TRACK-TBI has currently enrolled more than 2,300 TBI patients. All of the information collected will be available to be used by investigators to advance research into important questions in neuroscience. More information about the TRACK-TBI study can be found at www.tracktbi.ucsf.edu.

» $2.25 million to support the National Institute of Aging: The National Institute of Aging (NIA) is the branch of the NIH focused on aging processes and age-related diseases. The NIA currently has multiple ongoing research programs on cognitive aging, as well as diagnosis, causes, treatment and prevention of many forms of dementia. This grant will be unrestricted for the use of the NIA to support the Institute's scientific research on dementia and cognitive function. The grant amount to the NIA combines funds that were being held by the FNIH and then redirected at the NFL's request as well as an additional $1 million contribution to the NIA.

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