The National Football League will provide $30 million in funding for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Wednesday.
The unrestricted gift is the NFL’s single-largest donation to any organization in the league’s 92-year history and will be overseen by The National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“We hope this grant will help accelerate the medical community’s pursuit of pioneering research to enhance the health of athletes past, present and future,” Goodell said. “This research will extend beyond the NFL playing field and benefit athletes at all levels and others, including members of our military.”
NIH, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, will administer the NFL funding and research designed to benefit athletes and the general population, including members of the military.
With this contribution, the NFL becomes the founding donor to a new Sports and Health Research Program, which will be conducted in collaboration with institutes and centers at the NIH. The FNIH hopes to welcome other donors, including additional sports organizations, to the collaboration.
Specific plans for the research will remain to be developed, but potential areas under discussion include accelerating the pace of discovery to support the most innovative and promising science of the brain, including: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE); concussion management and treatment; and the understanding of the potential relationship between traumatic brain injury and late-life neurodegenerative disorders, especially Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition to brain research, funding also will be dedicated to other important health areas such as: sudden cardiac death in young athletes; heat and hydration-related illness; chronic degenerative joint disease as a result of athletic injuries; the transition from acute to chronic pain; and the detection and health effects of performance enhancing substances, including human growth hormone.
“We are grateful for the NFL’s generosity,” Dr. Stephanie James, FNIH acting executive director and CEO said. “The research to be funded by this donation will accelerate scientific discovery that will benefit athletes and the general public alike.”
Dissemination of funding from this grant will be governed by federal law and policy applicable to NIH-funded research. In accordance with NIH policy, NIH funding recipients will be urged to disseminate the results of research to optimize the value of the science to the research community and the public. The NFL will have no early or special access to scientific study data.”