16 Winners Selected in NFL's Head Health Challenge I

This initiative's second phase is already under way, with the proposals submission deadline extended to Feb. 11, 2014.

Researchers from 16 organizations that include Johns Hopkins Medicine, two University of California campuses, and research centers in Toronto and Finland have won Phase I awards in the NFL's Head Health Challenge, an ambitious, two-phase effort in which the NFL, GE, and Under Armour have united to support the development of technologies for detecting early-stage mild traumatic brain injuries and improve brain protection. They're committing as much as $60 million to fund innovative solutions.

GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Phase I award winners Jan. 23.

This phase invited proposals for algorithms and analytical tools, with a maximum of $100,000 per award to develop proof of concept, and biomarkers and other technologies, with as many as 20 winners to be awarded a maximum of $300,000 to develop proof of concept through guided funding within one year.

Immelt and Goodell announced the winning proposals include a blood test to rapidly identify and measure mild traumatic brain injury, a brain imaging technique to identify connections broken in the brain after a TBI, and electroencephalography (EEG) that could serve as an on-field imaging test.

"We looked for two qualities in making these awards," they wrote in announcing the first awards. "First, we want solutions that can be broadly applied. We want to understand how injuries impact connections in the brain and how to cure them, regardless of where they occur. Beyond sports, the discoveries from this program will help doctors, parents and patients better address brain injuries across the general population. Second, we are committed to making real impact in the short term. The grant winners were chosen, in part, on their ability to create life-changing tools, treatments and devices that can play out in real time. Research, fact-based analysis and disciplined peer review are important, but so are results that can be put into action to help today's athletes at all levels."

The second phase is focused on identifying breakthrough technologies and approaches for preventing, monitoring, and identifying trauma; engineered safety solutions; and training protocols.

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