NFL awarding more than $35 million to brain injury studies

By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL is awarding more than $35 million in funding to five organizations conducting research into diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries.
Through its Scientific Advisory Board established as part of its “Play Smart. Play Safe” initiative, the NFL is awarding grants to investigative teams focusing on concussions and associated conditions, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Receiving the funding will be:
—Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. William P. Meehan III, $14,698,132 to “A Prospective, LONGitudinal and Translational Study for Former National Football League Players.”
—The University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, $6,070,384 to its “Prevalence of Brain Health versus Neurodegeneration in Professional Football Retirees” work.
—The University of Calgary, led by Dr. Carolyn Emery, $9,438,473 to “Surveillance in High Schools to Reduce Concussions in Youth.”
—The University of California-San Francisco, led by Dr. Geoff Manley, $3,454,080 to “Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI Longitudinal).”
—The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. Grant Iverson, $1,583,138 to “The Spectrum of Concussion: Predictors of Clinical Recovery, Treatment and Rehabilitation, and Possible Long-Term Effects.”
Having awarded $35 million of the NFL’s $40 million commitment made in 2016, the league has allocated the remaining $5 million to further medical research focused on player health and safety. The funds will be distributed under the guidance of SAB Chairman Gen. Peter Chiarelli, a retired U.S. Army general who led the Department of Defense efforts on post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and suicide prevention.
“We saw their translational values,” Chiarelli said Thursday. “They supplemented ongoing research that already showed great promise. We were focused on the patient, and of the eight that we asked to come back and brief us for 30 minutes and answer questions, these five had the greatest opportunity to help patients, and to help understand and prevent injury in the future. That was our unified goal in picking the final five.”
Col. Sidney Hinds, an SAB Member and program coordinator for brain health research at the Department of Defense, praised the transparency of the search for grantees as well as the long-range effects their research can have.
“The traumatic brain community is relatively small when you look at other disease processes in comparison,” Hinds said. “Many of these groups are collaborating already, but I do believe through this SAB process, the future steps will offer another opportunity to collaborate and share information.
“I really look forward to further work and to the results these researchers will have, and to underscore the efforts they are undertaking. The results they get will not only impact professional sports but the broader general public to understand and take care of and treat concussions in the future.”
The five honorees will present evidence of making headway to the SAB in about one year. Chiarelli is optimistic their progress will be obvious.
“We felt it was important to ask each one of them that they provide deliverables at different stages in their research timeline,” he said. “We asked that we would get together and see how their research is progressing. We hope not only they get to something that will help the patient, but increase the collaboration in the field, and I think this is something that will happen with this.
“We hope to come back a year from now and see how they have been able to meet the deliverables they laid out. It’s very exciting.”
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Biggio leads New Hampshire over Reading 7-2

READING, Pa. (AP) — Cavan Biggio had three hits and three RBI as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats beat the Reading Fightin Phils 7-2 on Wednesday.
New Hampshire started the scoring in the first inning when Biggio hit a two-run double.
The Fisher Cats later added runs in four additional innings to secure the victory.
New Hampshire right-hander T.J. Zeuch (1-2) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing two runs on eight hits over seven innings. Opposing starter Harold Arauz (3-2) took the loss in the Eastern League game after a rough outing in which he allowed six runs and five hits over five innings.
Deivi Grullon singled three times for the Fightin Phils.
With the win, New Hampshire improved to 6-2 against Reading this season.
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This story was generated by Automated Insights ( http://www.automatedinsights.com ) using data from and in cooperation with MLB Advanced Media and Minor League Baseball, http://www.milb.com

Kyrie Irving says Boston is ‘a real, live sports city’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Boston star Kyrie Irving has added more spice to the Celtics-Cleveland season opener.
Irving, who asked to be traded out of Cleveland and wound up with the Celtics this summer after three straight NBA Finals trips with LeBron James and the Cavaliers, says he sees “a vast difference” between the cities.
“Boston, I’m driving in and (thinking), ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?'” Irving told reporters Wednesday, in comments published by The Charlotte Observer.
“A lot of different cultures, food and people. You get it all, especially in Boston,” Irving also said. “You would go to Cleveland, and it would be at nighttime, and things would be going on, but you just see a vast difference.”
Remember, Irving and the Celtics open in Cleveland on Tuesday night.

Vermont beats New Hampshire 74-41 in America East semis

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Anthony Lamb shot 9 of 14 from the field, made a career-high six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points and three steals to help Vermont beat New Hampshire 74-41 on Monday night in the American East Tournament.
Payton Henson added 14 points and Dre Wills scored 12 for No. 1 seed Vermont, which has won 20 in a row. The Catamounts will face second-seed Stony Brook or No. 3 seed Albany in the championship game on Saturday.
Vermont (28-5) never trailed and Lamb hit back-to-back 3s to make it 12-4 with 11 minutes left in the half. Lamb hit two more 3-pointers during a 13-2 run that pushed the lead to 19 points before a layup by New Hampshire’s Jaleen Smith made it 37-20 at the break. The Wildcats, who made just 6 of 24 first-half shots, went five-plus minutes without a field goal during that stretch.
Smith scored 13 points and Luke Rosinski added 12 for No. 4 seed New Hampshire (20-12), which had its six-game win streak snapped. The Wildcats set season lows for field-goal percentage (28), 3-point percentage (seven) and made 3s (one).

Vermont beats New Hampshire 74-41 in America East semis

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Anthony Lamb shot 9 of 14 from the field, made a career-high six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points and three steals to help Vermont beat New Hampshire 74-41 on Monday night in the American East Tournament.
Payton Henson added 14 points and Dre Wills scored 12 for No. 1 seed Vermont, which has won 20 in a row. The Catamounts will face second-seed Stony Brook or No. 3 seed Albany in the championship game on Saturday.
Vermont (28-5) never trailed and Lamb hit back-to-back 3s to make it 12-4 with 11 minutes left in the half. Lamb hit two more 3-pointers during a 13-2 run that pushed the lead to 19 points before a layup by New Hampshire’s Jaleen Smith made it 37-20 at the break. The Wildcats, who made just 6 of 24 first-half shots, went five-plus minutes without a field goal during that stretch.
Smith scored 13 points and Luke Rosinski added 12 for No. 4 seed New Hampshire (20-12), which had its six-game win streak snapped. The Wildcats set season lows for field-goal percentage (28), 3-point percentage (seven) and made 3s (one).