Concussion Legacy Foundation will collaborate with São Paulo’s famed Biobank for Aging Studies to secure brain donations from athletes to advance CTE research
(São Paulo) – Leaders from the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF) visited Brazil this week to announce that the University of São Paulo Biobank for Aging Studies has joined the CLF Global Brain Bank, a network of academic research centers that collaborate with CLF to study Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other effects of sports-related brain trauma.
“We need to recruit the world’s best scientists to CTE research and we couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with the Biobank for Aging Studies at the University of São Paulo,” said CLF co-founder and CEO Chris Nowinski, Ph.D.
The Biobank for Aging Studies, led by Dr. Wilson Jacob Filho, Head of the Division of Geriatrics at the University of São Paulo Medical School, has studied over 3,000 brains and has contributed to significant advancements in the world’s understanding of age-related brain disorders.
Dr. Nowinski was joined by CLF advisor Rose Gracie, a member of the legendary Gracie family, which developed Brazilian jiu-jitsu and founded the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Today, CTE cannot be diagnosed without examining the brain after death, and Gracie will lead local CLF efforts to recruit athletes to sign up to donate their brain at GlobalBrainBank.org.
“Many fighters and other athletes are affected by CTE, but we don’t have any way to stop the disease,” said Gracie. “I encourage athletes to pledge their brain to these amazing scientists so that together we can learn how to prevent and treat CTE.”
The leadership of the collaboration will also include other members of The Biobank for Aging Studies: Dr. Roberta Rodriguez (neuropathologist with special interest in tauopahties), Dr. Lea T. Grinberg (Associate Professor of Pathology at UCSF), Dr. Claudia Suemoto (Assistant Professor of Geriatrics), Dr. Ricardo Nitrini (Head of the Department of Neurology), and Dr. Carlos Augusto Pasqualucci (professor of Pathology and head of São Paulo Autopsy Service). Dr. Renato Anghinah, who is leading a clinical study of former professional soccer players and boxers, is also joining this partnership.
“We are still far from understanding the reach of CTE, but preliminary studies suggest that CTE is not only a problem of football players and boxers,” said Dr. Grinberg. “Only careful studies in postmortem brains can help us to figure out who is at risk, how to diagnose and eventually prevent and treat this nasty condition.”
In the 2014, Biobank for Aging Studies scientists diagnosed the first case of CTE in the brain of the Brazilian soccer legend Bellini, who helped lead Brazil to World Cup victories in 1958 and 1962 alongside Pelé. Bellini, who died at 83 with what was previously believed to be Alzheimer’s, was found to have severe CTE and was the third confirmed case of CTE in a soccer player globally.
More than 4,000 people have pledged their brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation to support concussion and CTE research. The Biobank for Aging Studies at the University of São Paulo will be the CLF Global Brain Bank’s exclusive collaborator in Brazil. The GlobalBrainBank.org web page is available in Portuguese here.
The mission of the CLF Global Brain Bank is to accelerate research by activating the global scientific and sports communities in the fight to understand, prevent, treat, and eventually cure CTE and other trauma-related brain diseases. The CLF Global Brain Bank is modeled off the success of CLF’s collaboration in the United States (US) with Boston University (BU) and the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which has become the world’s largest CTE brain bank with brain donations from over 600 athletes and veterans. The CLF Global Brain Bank was launched in March 2018 with the Australian Sports Brain Bank at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Members of Global Brain Bank commit to collaborative research, including using common study methods, common data elements, and sharing data to accelerate global understanding, prevention, and treatment of CTE and other consequences of head impacts in sport. Brain tissue will be stored and made available to outside researchers.