Skip to main content

A Strong Push from the Experts to Improve Protective Equipment


In the next three to five years, some of the brightest minds in academia, industry and government aim to play a crucial role in how protective sports equipment gets more effective against concussive impact.

Next Generation Safety

In the next three to five years, some of the brightest minds in academia, industry and government aim to play a crucial role in how protective sports equipment gets more effective against concussive impact.

These doctors, Ph.D.s and other innovation leaders met for the first time on October 6, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, to begin discussing key areas of focus of the NFL's Engineering Roadmap, a plan to incentivize helmet companies, manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, universities and others to develop and commercialize new and improved helmets and protective equipment.

The first meeting of this newly established Board of Directors of Football Research, Inc. will focus on four key areas of the Engineering Roadmap:

  1. How to create a program for head protection based in injury prevention techniques proven successful in automobile safety technology.
  2. How to develop accurate impact sensors.
  3. How to advance helmet technology to mitigate impact force.
  4. How to create incentives for industry to use this research and develop new protective equipment, potentially even including position-specific helmets.

Football Research, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the research and development of novel methods to prevent, mitigate and treat traumatic head injury. The Board of Directors includes leading engineers and experts who will advise Football Research, Inc. on how best to achieve the goal of advancing biomechanics and create an environment where new and improved protective equipment will be developed.

The Board of Directors includes:

Geoffrey Ling, M.D., Ph.D., Col. (Ret.)

Dr. Ling is a leading authority on traumatic brain injury (TBI). For many years, he was the leading TBI subject matter expert for the Department of Defense. Dr. Ling is a retired U.S. Army colonel and was deployed as a neurointensive care physician to Afghanistan in 2003 and, to Baghdad, Iraq in 2005. He is presently a professor of neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and is an attending physician in Neuro Critical Care Unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. And he was the founding Director of the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) where he served for almost 12 years.

Barclay Morrison III, Ph.D.

Dr. Morrison is Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, director of the Neurotrauma and Repair Laboratory, and Vice Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Morrison's research focus is on the biomechanics of traumatic brain injury at the tissue level to better prevent brain injuries, as well as on the biochemical, genomic, and molecular pathways responsible for post-traumatic cell death in the search for novel therapies to better treat brain injuries.

Alton (Al) Romig, Jr., Ph.D.

Dr. Romig is the executive officer of the National Academy of Engineering. Under Congressional charter, the Academy provides advice to the federal government, when requested, on matters of engineering and technology. He was previously vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Advanced Development Programs, better known as the Skunk Works®. He spent the majority of his career at Sandia National Laboratories, operated by the Lockheed Martin Corporation, having joined Sandia as a member of the technical staff in 1979 and moved through a succession of R&D management positions leading to his appointment as executive vice president in 2005. He served as deputy laboratories director and chief operating officer until 2010, when he transferred to the Skunk Works. Dr. Romig is a fellow of ASM International, TMS, IEEE, AIAA, and AAAS.

Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D.

Dr. Runge has decades of clinical, research, leadership and administrative experience. Until 2001 he practiced and taught in North Carolina's busiest emergency department and trauma center, while performing research in injury prevention, trauma care, and emergency service delivery. Dr. Runge was also the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) first Chief Medical Officer, where he led the reorganization of biodefense operations into a new Office of Health Affairs. He then led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where he instituted programs that led to the first absolute declines in U.S. motor vehicle deaths in nearly a decade and the lowest highway fatality rate in history.

The board will work closely with Dr. Kristy Arbogast and Dr. Barry Myers, consultants to the NFL Players Association, who are co-leads on essential elements of the Engineering Roadmap.