Bennet Omalu Foundation Launches To Support Research, Help People And Families Suffering From CTE

The Foundation will collaborate with University of Pittsburgh and its world-class researchers to drive understanding of the disease

Dec 15, 2015, 19:35 ET from Bennet Omalu Foundation

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Bennet Omalu Foundation launched to fund research, raise awareness, provide support, and find cures for people suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The foundation's goal is to advance the humanity of science.

Dr. Omalu is a forensic pathologist whose autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster led to a scientific breakthrough— the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in NFL players. CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the brains of people who have suffered repeated head injuries. Dr. Omalu's dedication to CTE and TBI sufferers and their families inspired a broad group of supporters from the scientific community, as well as from the sports, arts, and entertainment worlds to launch a foundation in his name.

Jeanne Marie Laskas, author, professor and director of the University of Pittsburgh's Writing Program, first drew attention to Dr. Omalu's story with her 2009 GQ article, "Game Brain."  Her article inspired her book Concussion (Penguin Random House, 2015) and Giannina Scott, the producer of the film, to invest in turning this story into a movie based on Bennet Omalu's life. On December 25, 2015, Sony Pictures will release Concussion, starring Will Smith, about Dr. Omalu's discovery of CTE in NFL players and his journey to bring this disease to the public's attention.

Dr. Omalu stated, "I am grateful for Jeanne Marie Laskas, Giannina Scott, Sony Pictures and everyone connected to the Foundation for bringing CTE and brain injuries to people's attention through the film Concussion. But this is just the beginning. CTE is a relatively new disease that requires additional research to understand how it develops, and hopefully to find treatments and a cure. By supporting research, our focus is to establish the science behind this disease and provide this information to the public."

Giannina Scott, president and CEO of the Foundation stated, "When I learned about Bennet's incredible story and his uphill battle to bring awareness of CTE to the public, I felt compelled to help. The Foundation will lead the way to raise funding for research, treatments and ultimately a cure for this debilitating disease."

The University of Pittsburgh, a world-class and nationally known center for basic and clinical neuroscience research, will serve as a founding academic affiliate for the Foundation. As some of the most cited scientists in the area of TBI, the University's researchers will bring an incredible breadth of expertise in normal brain function as well as research into the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of brain disease to the Foundation's efforts. Its goal will be to help the Foundation—through new research efforts, leveraging some of the world's leading experts, data sets and other resources in the areas of TBI and neurodegeneration—close the current knowledge gaps surrounding TBI, neurodegeneration and dementia. University of Pittsburgh researchers will work to achieve an understanding of how and when mild head trauma leads to long-term damage and how this damage can be prevented.

"The University of Pittsburgh and our city is home to Dr. Omalu's CTE discovery, and we are proud to lead with our research on the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of brain disease in this important issue," said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. "Science, however, is one half of the full equation. To spark such a national conversation requires storytellers to work alongside researchers and help translate their findings for a larger audience. At Pitt, we are proud to have both the deep scientific expertise and trained storytellers who help new discoveries make an impact in the public forum – who are able to express the humanity of science."

The Bennet Omalu Foundation's Trustees include: Leading forensic pathologist and neurologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu; Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, Ridley Scott; Award winning novelist, screen writer and director Peter Landesman; Award winning author and journalist, Jeanne Marie Laskas; Nationally recognized leader in neurosurgery, Dr. Julian Bailes; Lawyer and attorney for the Estate of Mike Webster, Bob Fitzsimmons; and President and CEO of the foundation, Giannina Scott.

To learn more about the Foundation, its work and the affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh, visit: www.BennetOmaluFoundation.org.

About the Bennet Omalu Foundation
The Bennet Omalu Foundation is committed to funding research, raising awareness, providing care and finding cures for people suffering from CTE and TBI. Our goal is to advance the humanity of science.

The Bennet Omalu Foundation is affiliating with academic institutions like the University of Pittsburgh with its world-class researchers, and is leading the way in raising funds to support ongoing research about all types of traumatic brain injuries. We sponsor research in the medical sciences, the humanities, and the physical sciences focused on diagnosis, treatment, and finding eventual cures for traumatic brain injuries and CTE. We also strive to raise public awareness of CTE, and to support families and treatment centers, which care for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries and CTE.

About the University of Pittsburgh
An internationally renowned public-research university founded in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh is a leading center of learning and research. Pitt ranks fifth among all U.S. universities in terms of the competitive grants awarded to members of its faculty by the National Institutes of Health and consistently ranks among the country's leading U.S. public research universities. With 16 schools and colleges and 35,000 students on five campuses, the University offers nearly 400 distinct degree programs.

About CTE
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are serious public health problems caused by repeated head trauma. These injuries become painful degenerative diseases that often go undiagnosed and can manifest months or years later.

CTE was discovered in boxers and professional football players, but it can affect any contact-sport athlete at any level.  Alarmingly, reports of CTE have increased steadily in younger athletes.  CTE goes beyond sports: it has been found in military personnel with blast injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic abuse victims, people suffering from chronic seizures, and virtually anyone exposed to repeated head trauma.

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