The Brain Injury Research Institute is a new center for the study of traumatic brain injuries and prevention.
Its founding members include: Julian E. Bailes, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine and former NFL and current NCAA team physician; Bennet I. Omalu, M.D., Forensic Neuropathologist, who is the Chief Medical Examiner for San Joaquin County, California, and Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of California at Davis; and Robert P. Fitzsimmons, Senior Partner at Fitzsimmons Law Offices, in Wheeling, West Virginia.
The Institute has established a brain and tissue bank. It now houses 20 brains for future research. Our research is dedicated to the study of traumatic injury to the brain, specifically including concussions and sub-concussive trauma. One of our founding members, Dr. Bennet Omalu, first discovered physical evidence of concussions and a disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in activities other than boxing. Since 2002, the Institute has been performing research on traumatic brain injury and CTE with the hopes of developing proper protocol for detection and treatment of the disease and of furthering research to ascertain genetic predisposition and pharmaceuticals that will lessen the disease’s progression and/or provide a cure.
Why a brain and tissue bank?
After an athlete’s death, a routine autopsy won’t detect specific diseases and trauma to the brain. We are examining the role of toxic proteins called tau, which are a sign of Alzheimer’s disease and have been identified in the brains of deceased professional and/or college football players.
Since 2002, the Brain Injury Research Institute members have collectively examined over twenty brains, including former NFL players Mike Webster, Justin Strzelczyk, Terry Long, and Andre Waters. They have also examined and diagnosed CTE in WWE wrestler Chris Benoit – in a much-publicized tragic case.