GE, NFL & Leading Healthcare Experts Team up to Accelerate Concussion Research, Diagnosis & Treatment

Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:00pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

$40 million research program aims to increase accuracy of traumatic brain injury

GE, NFL, Under Armour also launch $20 million open innovation challenge to find
and fund ideas to develop new solutions to diagnose and protect against
traumatic brain injury
NEW YORK--(Business Wire)--
(NYSE: GE) - GE and the NFL today announced the Head Health Initiative, a
four-year, $60 million collaboration to speed diagnosis and improve treatment
for mild traumatic brain injury. The goal of the research and innovation
program, guided by healthcare experts, is to improve the safety of athletes,
members of the military and society overall. 

The initiative includes a four-year, $40 million research and development
program to evaluate and develop next generation imaging technologies to improve
diagnosis that would allow for targeting treatment therapy for patients with
mild traumatic brain injury. In addition the NFL, GE and Under Armour launched a
two-year open innovation challenge to invest up to $20 million in research and
technology to better understand, diagnose and protect against mild traumatic
brain injury. 

GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, "GE is a leader in developing
sophisticated diagnostic imaging technology, but for all the advances in science
our knowledge of the brain is far behind that of nearly every other organ in the
body. With this initiative, we will advance our research and apply our learning
to sports-related concussions, brain injuries suffered by members of the
military and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer`s and Parkinson`s.
Advancing brain science will help families everywhere." 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "Jeff and I have had many conversations
over the years about business and the game we both love - football. The future
of our great game is bright. The NFL has made tremendous progress in making the
game safer and more exciting. But we know we have more work to do. Our
collaboration with GE and Under Armour and the launch of the innovation
challenges puts us on an accelerated path to progress with experienced
scientists, academics and entrepreneurs dedicated to developing game-changing
technologies that will benefit athletes, the military and all members of

Research to Map Brain Imaging Biomarkers

The research will take a whole brain approach to determine the key Magnetic
Resonance Imaging (MRI) biomarkers for potential diagnosis, outcome prediction,
and therapy management for patients with mild traumatic brain injury. The
research study will be guided by an advisory board consisting of a
cross-disciplinary team of medical professionals from various institutions.
Among those participating: 

1. Dr. Thomas McAllister is the Millennium Professor of Psychiatry and
Neurology, Director of the Section of Neuropsychiatry and Vice Chair for
Neuroscience Research for the Department of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of
Medicine at Dartmouth. He has recently been named chair of the Department of
Psychiatry and the Albert Eugene Sterne Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at
Indiana University School of Medicine. He will begin his duties in the summer of

2. Dr. Richard Ellenbogen is Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery and
Fellowship Director of Neurological Surgery at Seattle Children`s Hospital. He
is the co-chair of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee. 

3. Dr. Russell Lonser is the Chair of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical
Center Department of Neurological Surgery, head of the NFL`s Research
Subcommittee and a member of the NFL`s Head, Neck and Spine Medical Committee. 

4. Dr. Geoffrey Manley is the Chief of Neurosurgery at San Francisco General
Hospital and Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California San
Francisco (UCSF). 

5. Dr. Pratik Mukherjee is an Attending Neuroradiologist and an Associate
Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Bioengineering and Therapeutic at
the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). 

6. Lieutenant Colonel Gerald York, is an Active Duty radiologist with a
Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) in neuroradiology serving at Brooke
Army Medical Center in Houston, TX. He has expertise in interpretation of CT and
MRI of the brain, spinal cord, and head-neck disorders, including many acute,
subacute and chronic traumatic brain injury patients. 

7. Colonel Jamie Grimes is the National Director of the Defense and Veterans
Brain Injury Center. As national director, COL Grimes oversees all aspects of
the organization`s mission: to serve active duty military and veterans with
traumatic brain injury through state-of-the-art medical care and care
coordination and through innovative clinical research and educational programs. 

8. Dr. Larry Leverenz is the Clinical Professor in the Department of Health and
Kinesiology and Director of Athletic Training Education at Purdue University. He
has served professionally as a member of the National Athletic Trainers'
Association Education Council and as president of the Commission on
Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Currently, he is the
President of the World Federation of Athletic Training & Therapy. 

9. Dr. Teena Shetty is a Neurologist at Hospital for Special Surgery and is
triple board-certified in neurology, neuromuscular medicine, and
electrodiagnostic medicine. 

10. Dr. Brian Hainline is the Chief Medical Officer at the NCAA. He is a leading
sports medicine advocate with more than two decades` experience most recently as
the chief medical officer of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). 

Open Innovation Challenge to Study and Prevent Traumatic Brain Injury

In addition to the research program, the NFL is partnering with GE and Under
Armour to launch the Head Health Challenge, which has two focus areas that seek
new solutions for understanding mild traumatic brain injury. The organizations
are pledging to find and fund ideas that accelerate solutions for brain
protection. The challenge fund could invest up to $20 million. 

Sue Siegel, CEO of GE healthymagination, said, "GE is investing in research and
development to fast-track advancement in head health. Through our research
collaboration and open innovation challenge, we hope to stimulate the broader
ecosystem of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists,
entrepreneurs, and innovators worldwide to bring their talents to this effort
and accelerate the current understanding of brain trauma and improve diagnostic

Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour said, "As longstanding partners of
the NFL, we recognize the magnitude of this initiative, and the impact it will
have for athletes at all levels. Under Armour was founded upon the pillar of
making all athletes better through the relentless pursuit of innovation. We take
great pride in supporting this effort to reward new ideas and breakthrough
concepts in this space, particularly as it applies to protecting athletes and
influencing positive change in sports." 

Dr. Geoff Manley, professor and vice-chair of the Department of Neurological
Surgery at UCSF and Chief of Neurotrauma at San Francisco General Hospital,
said, "Traumatic brain injury is one of the greatest unmet medical needs of our
time. Every 20 seconds someone in the United States sustains a brain injury. A
better understanding of the molecular, physiological, and
behavioral/biomechanical changes that occur shortly after a traumatic event is
needed to reliably diagnose the types of changes that are difficult to identify
using current technologies." 

Challenge I: Methods for Diagnosis and Prognosis of Mild Traumatic Brain

Starting today, GE and the NFL are inviting proposals for technologies and
imaging biomarkers that address identification and management of subclinical and
mild traumatic brain injury. Multiple cash awards with a cumulative total value
of up to $10 million will be made, along with the possibility of future
partnership and collaboration with GE. Entries are being immediately accepted at Specific focus areas for this challenge include:

* Development and validation of imaging and/or sensor based biomarkers that can
aid in the diagnosis and prognosis of mild traumatic brain injury events. These
include imaging biomarkers of brain structure, connectivity, function,
cognition, neuroinflammation, and molecular markers. 
* Development of new technologies that are more sensitive to small contusions
and injuries that are missed by current technologies; and assessing the
long-term chronic impact of these events. 
* Improved algorithms for the quantification and visualization of markers of
brain injury severity and longitudinal change. 
* Algorithms and tools that link imaging data to clinical, cognitive, and
biomechanical data. 
* Models of individual risk and long-term prognosis and clinical decision
support tools using population studies. 
* Robust methods for triaging acute stage events and developing "Return to Play"
guidelines using physiological, molecular, electrical or physical changes in
brain or body functions.

Challenge II: The Mechanics of Injury: Innovative Approaches For Preventing And
Identifying Brain Injuries

Launching in fall 2013, the NFL, Under Armour and GE will invite proposals for
new materials and technologies that can protect the brain from traumatic injury
and new tools for tracking head impacts in real time. Specific focus areas for
this challenge include, but are not limited to: 

Protection against Injury

* Materials or devices that can distribute the force of impact. These include
smart materials or active polymers that are comfortable but can adapt to sudden
impacts are highly desirable 
* Systems to predict and initiate protective responses to prevent injury
activation of adaptive padding at the focus of impact

Monitoring and Identifying Injury

* Systems that monitor and integrate directional and rotational impact forces.
These systems should integrate information with imaging/diagnostic equipment 
* Sensors to provide biofeedback to modify behaviors that predispose athletes to
* Systems that monitor biomechanical and physiological responses to detect
* Systems to efficiently collect, interpret and organize large quantities of
real-time data

The winners of the challenges will be selected by a panel of external judges
that include leading healthcare experts in brain research, imaging technologies,
and advocates for advances in brain research. For Challenge I these individuals

1. Dr. William J. Heetderks is the Director of Extramural Science Programs at
the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), NIH. 

2. Dr. Walter Koroshetz is the Deputy Director of the National Institute of
Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at the NIH. Before joining NINDS, Dr.
Koroshetz served as vice chair of the neurology service and director of stroke
and neurointensive care services at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). 

3. General Peter Chiarelli, USA (Ret.) is the Chief Executive Officer of One
Mind for Research. He is a retired four-star General with 40 years of experience
designing and implementing American defense policy for the U.S. Army and
Department of Defense in peace and during combat operations. 

4. Colonel Dallas Hack is the Director of the Combat Casualty Care Research
Program and the Chair, Joint Program Committee 6 (Combat Casualty Care), US Army
Medical Research and Materiel Command, Ft Detrick, MD, where he coordinates
leading edge research focused on new techniques and products to save the lives
and reduce morbidity of troops injured in the line of duty. 

5. Dr. Geoff Manley is the Chief of Neurosurgery at San Francisco General
Hospital and Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California San
Francisco (UCSF). 

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best
technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy,
health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and
helping to cure the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more
information, visit the company's website at 

About The National Football League

Throughout its history, the NFL has made the health and safety of its players a
priority. This commitment extends to football played at all ages, as well as
other sports. At the youth level, the NFL`s partnership with the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and the League`s support for USA Football,
including prominently their Heads Up Football initiative, helps parents,
coaches, clinicians and athletes understand the signs and symptoms of possible
head injuries. The league has successfully advocated for the passage of youth
concussion laws in 42 states thus far. Through funding for medical studies,
including a $30 million grant to the National Institutes of Health for medical
research; collaboration with the military on research and recognizing and
reporting potential head injuries; and the work of the NFL`s medical committees,
the NFL is committed to supporting and advancing science that will have an
impact far beyond football. With a continued emphasis on improved equipment,
rules changes, and in-game policies, the NFL fosters a culture that promotes
health and safety at every level of the game. 

About Under Armour, Inc.

Under Armour (NYSE: UA) is a leading developer, marketer, and distributor of
branded performance apparel, footwear, and accessories. The Company's products
are sold worldwide and worn by athletes at all levels, from youth to
professional, on playing fields around the globe. The Under Armour global
headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland, with European headquarters in
Amsterdam`s Olympic Stadium, and additional offices in Denver, Hong Kong,
Toronto, and Guangzhou, China. For further information, please visit the
Company's website at

Megan Parker, 646-682-5605
Brian McCarthy, 212-450-2069

Copyright Business Wire 2013