About the NFL's Scientific Advisory Board

The NFL assembled a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)—chaired by Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army General (Retired)—comprised of leading independent researchers, experts, doctors, scientists and clinicians to develop and lead a clear process to identify and support compelling proposals for scientific research to be funded.

In 2016, as part of the Play Smart. Play Safe initiative, the NFL allotted $100 million for medical research and engineering advancements, including $40 million in funding for medical research primarily dedicated to neuroscience.

Funding Opportunity for Innovative Translational Research on Concussion and Comorbid Conditions

In 2018, the SAB issued a request for proposal (RFP) and provided a funding opportunity for research being conducted by investigative teams related to the diagnosis, treatment, and natural history of concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) and associated comorbid conditions.

The SAB reviewed 129 proposals, from which they selected eight finalists to give oral presentations, and provide additional written materials to the SAB. After review and evaluation of the science and merit of the finalists' proposals, the SAB recommended five projects to the NFL for funding. The NFL accepted the SAB's recommendations and granted $35 million in total funding to all five projects.

Funding Opportunity for Innovative Preclinical, Translational, and Clinical Research on the Prevention, Treatment, Rehabilitation and Return-to-Play of Hamstring Injuries

In 2020, the league opened a second funding opportunity to allocate $4 million for the purposes of inviting research proposals and providing funding for innovative preclinical, translational and clinical research being conducted by leading investigative teams related to the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and return-to-play following injury to the hamstring muscle group.

The SAB reviewed 89 proposals, from which they selected five finalists to give oral presentations and provide additional written materials to the SAB. After review and evaluation of the science and merit of the finalists' proposals, the SAB recommended one project to the NFL for funding. The NFL accepted the SAB's recommendations and granted $4 million in total funding to the project.

The remaining $1 million in funding was awarded by the NFL's Research and Innovation Committee through a request for proposals titled "Innovative Translational and Clinical Research on Alternatives to Opioids: Effects on Pain and Performance" in December 2021. To learn more about the awardees, click here.

More information on the SAB's evaluation process and the projects being funded can be found at the SAB Fact Sheet here.

Scientific Advisory Board


Peter Chiarelli, Gen. (Ret.)

Chiarelli served as the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Chiarelli 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.

2013 Chiarelli received the Patriot Award, Congressional Medal of Honor.

Chiarelli holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Seattle University, a Master of Public Administration from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs – University of Washington, a graduate of the National War College.


Ajit M.W. Chaudhari, PhD, FACSM

Dr. Chaudhari is a biomechanical engineer whose research focuses on the biomechanics of human movement. He is particularly interested in injuries and diseases that affect running, balance, core stability, and field/court sports. His work has been funded by the NIH, DoD, NFL, and industry sponsors, and he is an Associate Editor of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.


Brian Feeley, MD

Brian Feeley, MD is the Chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service and is currently a Professor in Residence. He grew up in the Bay Area and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford University and his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine before serving his residency in the UCLA Department of Orthopedic Surgery. He completed a sports medicine and shoulder fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, where he also served as an assistant team physician to the New York Giants. He has been at UCSF since 2008, and currently serves at the team physician at St. Ignatius High School. Dr. Feeley performs research on common shoulder and knee problems. In the shoulder, he is studying the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the development of muscle atrophy after rotator cuff tears. He runs an NIH-funded lab studying how muscle stem cells result in changes to the muscle tissue, and how to stimulate these cells to differentiate in ways to improve muscle function.


Richard L. Lieber, PhD

Rick Lieber is a physiologist who earned his Ph.D. in Biophysics from U.C. Davis developing a theory of light diffraction that was applied to mechanical studies of single muscle cells. He joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1985 where he spent the first 30 years of his academic career, achieving the rank of Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He received his M.B.A. in 2013 and is currently Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL.

Dr. Lieber's work represents a translational approach, applying basic scientific principles to help patients who have experienced spinal cord injury, stroke, musculoskeletal trauma and cerebral palsy —an approach that is relevant to those who study biomechanics, rehabilitation and orthopaedic surgery. He has published almost 300 articles in journals ranging from the very basic such as The Biophysical Journal and The Journal of Cell Biology to clinical journals such as The Journal of Hand Surgery and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Dr. Lieber's research focuses on design and plasticity of skeletal muscle. Currently, he is developing state-of-the-art biological and biophysical approaches to understanding muscle contractures that result from cerebral palsy, stroke and spinal cord injury.

In recognition of the clinical impact of his basic science studies, Dr. Lieber has been honored by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (Kappa Delta Award; twice), the American Bone and Joint Surgeons (Nicolas Andry Award) the American College of Sports Medicine (Fellow), the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright Fellowship) and the American Society for Biomechanics (Borelli Award; Hay Award). He was also named a Senior Research Career Scientist from the Department of Veterans Affairs from which he has received continuous support since 1985.


Lynn Snyder-Mackler, PT, ATC, ScD, FAPTA

Dr. Snyder-Mackler is an internationally recognized clinician and clinical researcher in sports and orthopedic rehabilitation. She is a world recognized for her work in management of athletes after ACL injury. She has been a Board-Certified Sports Physical Therapist for 40 years who maintains an active Sports Physical Therapy practice at the University of Delaware and serves as a rehabilitation consultant to collegiate, amateur and professional teams. She served as Head Athletic Trainer for the beach volleyball venue at the 1996 (Centennial) Olympic Games in Atlanta. She concentrates her clinical practice in the areas of knee and shoulder rehabilitation, and electrical stimulation of muscle. She has authored more than 300 research publications in the areas of knee rehabilitation and neuromuscular electrical stimulation and regularly speaks to national and international audiences on these topics. She is on the Editorial Boards of several scientific journals. She was named a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association in 2003 and Francis Alison Professor at University of Delaware in 2010. Her research has won several major awards helping patients and practitioners and answering critical questions in sports and orthopedic rehabilitation. Her international collaborative research on ACL injuries was awarded a prestigious NIH MERIT Award in 2013. She was named the American Physical Therapy Association's Mary McMilllan Lecturer for 2015, the Association's highest honor.


Timothy C. Sell, PhD, PT, FACSM

Dr. Sell has over 100 publications, and this last year held close to one million dollars in external funding for his research work.

Dr. Sell received a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy, a Master of Science in Human Movement Science (Biomechanics Focus) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed his PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

During his research career, Tim has focused on the role of functional joint stability in the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries; in recovery following injury; and in re-establishing neuromuscular control following surgery. He has conducted research in many different populations from youth athletes to masters athletes; recreational active individuals to professional athletes; and in military servicemen and women.