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Blog: NIH scores $30 million donation from NFL

The NFL and the NIH are two acronyms that you’ll rarely find in the same sentence let alone in the same huddle.

But that was the case this week, when the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health announced the NFL agreed to donate $30 million for the Foundation’s new Sports and Health Research Program. The philanthropic gift—the largest in the league’s 92-year history—made the NFL the founding donor to the new program, which an NIH spokeswoman says will involve multiple NIH centers and institutes.

“We hope this grant will help accelerate the medical community’s pursuit of pioneering research to enhance the health of athletes past, present and future,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a news release.

The money will be used to support medical research on conditions that are prominent in athletes and also relevant to the general population. And while specific plans are still in the works, potential areas of research include chronic traumatic encephalopathy, concussion, chronic degenerative joint disease, and the potential relationship between traumatic brain injury and late-life neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“Findings from this research will provide us with better ways to detect, diagnose and treat these conditions, and in some cases, even prevent their occurrence,” Story Landis, director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said in the announcement.

The league’s second-largest philanthropic gift went to organizations after the Sept. 11 attacks and totaled $10 million, according to Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman.

You can follow Jessica on Twitter @MHJZigmond.

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