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Public Brain Health vs. Private Brain Research Funds: How the NFL tried to influence NIH studies


How the NFL tried to manip­u­late a gov­ern­ment study on foot­ball and brain injuries (Los Ange­les Times):

The Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health seems to have dis­cov­ered what com­mu­ni­ties across the land already know: The Nation­al Foot­ball League is an untrust­wor­thy part­ner.

Accord­ing to a report released Mon­day by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic staff of the House Com­mit­tee on Ener­gy and Com­merce, the NFL pres­sured the NIH to can­cel a $16-mil­lion grant to study foot­ball-relat­ed brain injuries to a promi­nent Boston brain researcher who the league claimed was biased. The NIH had found no evi­dence that the researcher, Robert Stern, was biased or sub­ject to a con­flict of inter­est. The House staff agreed. On the oth­er hand, it did assert a con­flict of inter­est on the part of one NFL med­ical advi­sor, who applied unsuc­cess­ful­ly for the same grant and then became a lead­ing crit­ic of the award to Stern…

To the com­mit­tee staff, the fault in this case belongs almost entire­ly to the NFL. The league, it found, “improp­er­ly attempt­ed to influ­ence … grant selec­tion” and inject­ed itself into deci­sion-mak­ing it should have known was “out of bounds for donors.”

Report: The Nation­al Foot­ball League’s Attempt to Influ­ence Fund­ing Deci­sions at the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health (opens PDF)

  • Descrip­tion: This report serves as an update on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Com­mit­tee staff inves­ti­ga­tion of
    claims that the Nation­al Foot­ball League (NFL) attempt­ed to influ­ence deci­sions on brain injury
    research at the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health (NIH). The review has includ­ed requests for
    infor­ma­tion from the Nation­al Insti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders and Stroke (NINDS) at NIH,
    the Foun­da­tion for the NIH (FNIH), and the NFL, brief­in­gs with staff from NIH, FNIH, and the
    NFL, as well as a review of rel­e­vant doc­u­ments and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

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