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Chuck Noll Foundation awards grants to concussion researchers

| Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, 11:21 a.m.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Chuck Noll.
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Former Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Chuck Noll.

The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research awarded more than $600,000 in grants to five research teams at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and UPMC.

The foundation was started in 2016 by the Pittsburgh Steelers with an initial contribution of $1 million and the mission to support continued research and education on brain injuries and treatment of sports-related concussions. Noll coached the Steelers for 23 years and led the team to four Super Bowl victories.

“Chuck Noll was a great coach who was ahead of his time in recognizing the need for a better understanding of sports-related brain injuries,” said Arthur J. Rooney II, president of the Pittsburgh Steelers and chairman of the foundation board, in a release. “He would be very pleased with these grants, especially being awarded to Pittsburgh-based researchers.”

The first-year distribution will be $278,000, Recipients include Dr. Michael Collins and Dr. Anthony Kontos of UPMC. They are conducting a one-year randomized, controlled study of a specific treatment approach for adolescent patients following a sports-related concussion.

Also at UPMC, recipients Dr. Juan Fernandez-Miranda and Dr. Frank Yehl are involved in a one-year study to assess changes in the brains of retired contact sport athletes with post traumatic disorders.

Recipients Dr. C. Edward Dixon and Dr. Shaun Carlson at Pitt are doing a three-year study to use one of the brain's fatty acids to improve the functioning of neurons in the brain damaged by multiple traumatic brain injuries.

Automated detection and suppression of brain tsunamis is the topic of a three-year study by Dr. Pulkit Grover, Dr. Marlene Behrmann, Dr. Michael Tarr, Dr. Shawn Kelly, Dr. Jonathan Elmer and Dr. Lori Shutter of Carnegie Mellon University and Pitt. The team is looking to develop a concussion monitoring and treatment system.

Researchers from Pitt and the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Ava Puccio and Dr. Jessica Gill are conducting a three-year study assessing biomarkers following a concussion for potential monitoring for return to play, school or work.

Suzanne Elliott is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at selliott@tribweb.com, 412-871-2346 or via Twitter @41Suzanne.

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