Medical College wins $300,000 grant in GE-NFL Head Health Challenge

GE and the NFL have announced 16 winners in the first stage of the $20 million “Head Health Challenge,” one of which is the Medical College of Wisconsin.


Each winner receives a $300,000 award to advance their work to speed diagnosis and improve treatment for mild traumatic brain injury. Six of the awardees will have an opportunity to win an additional $500,000 in 2015.

The winners were selected from more than 400 entries from 27 countries, after having been reviewed and nominated by a panel of leading health-care experts in brain research, imaging technologies and advocates for advances in brain research.

According to the release, “Using innovative MRI scanning technology, researchers at The Medical College of Wisconsin aim to determine the direct effects of sport-related concussions on brain structure and function. The aim of the study is to advance the discovery of more objective ways of diagnosing concussion, as well as determining when an athlete’s brain has fully recovered and the athlete is fit to return to play after concussion.”

The Head Health Challenge is part of GE and the NFL’s Head Health Initiative, a four-year, $60 million collaboration that is based in southeastern Wisconsin, at GE Healthcare’s North American headquarters in Wauwatosa and its global headquarters for Magnetic Resonance in Waukesha.

Dr. Michael McCrea, professor of neurosurgery and neurology and director of brain injury research at the Medical College of Wisconsin has been studying concussion and traumatic brain injury for more than 15 years, and is the recipient of the grant.

“What this grant will allow us to do is add advanced MR imaging into our current research infrastructure,” said McCrea. “The next great frontier is looking at the direct effects of concussion and traumatic brain injury on brain structure and function… One of the huge benefits of this grant is that it allows us to build this MR technology onto our large scale existing clinical studies.”

Announcing the 16 winners on Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: “These studies hold the promise of advancing brain science in important ways. The health and safety of our players is our top priority, and this challenge extends that commitment to the general population as well. We hope the innovative approaches proposed by these winners will have a lasting impact on the treatment of head injuries.”

Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures and Healthymagination, said: “We launched the Challenge as a call to action to fast-track advancement in head health. The Challenge has shown us a remarkable number of breakthrough ideas that deserve attention, investment and further research. By advancing the work of these winners, we will better understand brain injuries suffered by athletes and members of the military and improve our knowledge of the brain overall which could help improve our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

More information on this challenge can be found at

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