The full page ads began running in The New York Times this week.
“The brain has all the knowledge,” the ad says. “Yet we have very little knowledge about the brain.”
The ad explains that General Electric and the National Football League are teaming up to form the Head Health Initiative, with both parties investing $60 million over four years to fund research to better understand the brain.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, who played football at Dartmouth, held a press conference in Manhattan earlier this week to explain the initiative.
The website NFLGEBrainChallenge.com does a pretty good job laying out the details.
It says that Challenge I of the initiative, with $10 million in funding, “aims to develop new solutions to help diagnose mile traumatic brain injury and invites proposals for scanning technologies and biomarkers that can accelerate growth.”
The website explains that the project “aims to improve the safety of athletes, members of the military and society overall,” and that ideas are welcomed “from all industries, organizations and technical fields.”
Fast Company interviewed Goodell and Immelt after their press conference, where the two executives explained that their Head Health Initiative is putting together military and academic experts to guide brain trauma research and most importantly, ask for entrepreneurs to come up with ideas and strategies for preventing concussions.
Needless to say, brain injury is the most crucial issue, the No. 1 challenge, as Goodell has said, for the NFL. Right now the league is being sued by several thousand former and current players who alleged that the NFL hid the long-term damage that concussions do to the brain.
As Goodell explains in the Fast Company story, he and the NFL are ill-equipped to judge what what helmet or what proposal are the best to prevent brain trauma on the gridiron. But a technology company like GE does have the resources and wherewithal to do that.
Immelt told Fast Company that the GE-NFL initiative could have far-reaching impact, because increased knowledge about the brain could also uncover ways to ward off Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia and Parkinson’s.
Challenge I, the first stage of the initiative, is looking to find MRI biomarkers to identify brain damage and how bad it is, according to Fast Company.