Benefits of New National Sports Brain Bank at University of Pittsburgh

September 2023

In May 2023, the University of Pittsburgh announced the creation of the National Sports Brain Bank (NSBB) in order to study the neurological consequences associated with participating in an array of contact sports. UPMC Neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Maroon participated at the news conference, at that time, and discussed why it is so important. In a follow-up article that recently appeared in the American Association of Neurological Surgeons online newsletter, Drs. Regis Haid, MD and Joseph Maroon, MD, discussed the intended benefits to research that the NSBB will provide to understanding traumatic brain injury.

In the article, entitled, National Sports Brain Bank: Improving the Ability to Diagnose, Treat and Prevent rTBI,  Drs. Haid and Maroon outline the following goals of the new NSBB and the unique premorbid data collection methods that they will use to help overcome bias that has impaired data collection up until this point.

Goals of the NSBB include outreach to populations at risk and establishment of a disease focused brain bank.

Those eligible for participation include:

  • Symptomatic and asymptomatic former contact sports participants at all levels of play including high school, collegiate and professional levels.
  • The study is open to all adults ≥18 years, but active outreach activities will focus on former athletes ≥65 years of age.
  • Participants will undergo a telephone cognitive screening to confirm capability to provide consent.
  • Data, including demographics, medication and family history, cognition and daily functioning, mood, brain injury and sport participation history will be collected, securely.
  • A study partner who knows the individual donor well will complete a separate set of questionnaires that describe their relationship to the individual, and collect information about the participant’s cognition, mood, behavior and daily functioning.
  • Participants and their study partner will receive annual follow-up questionnaires to longitudinally track their cognitive, behavioral and overall health.

The overarching goal is to build a well-annotated registry and brain bank of individuals at risk, including those with and without concussion history, from different ages, different sports and different levels of play to avoid selection bias in sampling. Hopefully, over time, this resource will form the foundation for follow-up studies and collaborations with other brain bank centers, improving our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent the occurrence of this disastrous condition