Key Initiatives

Sports and Health Research Program

The Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP) is an innovative partnership among the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Football League (NFL) and the FNIH. Launched in 2012, the program aims to help accelerate the pursuit of research to enhance the health of athletes at all levels, past, present and future, and to extend the impact of that research beyond the playing field to benefit others in the general population, including members of the military.

NFL ShieldMade possible by a founding commitment of $30 million from the National Football League (NFL), and with an initial focus on traumatic brain injury, the SHRP is designed to expand to encompass other areas of research on serious medical conditions prominent in athletes and to engage additional funding partners representing a breadth of relevant interests.

Specific plans for the research that will be supported by the SHRP are currently under development, but examples of potential areas include:

  • chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • concussion
  • understanding the potential relationship between traumatic brain injury and late life neurodegenerative disorders, especially Alzheimer’s disease
  • chronic degenerative joint disease
  • the transition from acute to chronic pain
  • sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes
  • heat and hydration-related illness and injury
  • sickle cell trait

As the first step in defining the SHRP research agenda, in December 2012 the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) held a workshop to identify what is known about the neuropathology of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and what research strategies and resources are needed to fill critical gaps in knowledge. A report from that workshop is available here.

Research supported through the SHRP will be conducted under the direction of the NIH. As they become available, Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) will be widely advertised to the biomedical research community, including in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts and on this Web site.  The first three announcements can be viewed here:

Following rigorous scientific review of applications submitted in response to these announcements, NIH selected eight projects to receive support. These studies promise to answer some of the most fundamental problems on traumatic brain injury, including understanding long-term effects of repeated head injuries and improving diagnosis of concussions. Click here for the NIH-NINDS press release >>.

A second workshop, to discuss strategies and next steps for future research aimed at better understanding the relationship between brain trauma and progressive neurodegeneration, was held in July 2013. A report from that workshop is available here (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/news_and_events/proceedings/TBI-related_neurodegeneration_workshop_report.htm)

In accordance with NIH policy, those receiving funding under SHRP will be urged to disseminate the results of their research in order to optimize the value of the science to the research community and the public.   donate now

The FNIH invites individual donations to support SHRP, as well as additional private partners—corporations, foundations, associations and other institutional stakeholders—to invest in this important research program. For more information about joining the public-private partnership that supports SHRP, please contact:  Julie Wolf-Rodda, Director of Development, at jwolf-rodda [at] fnih [dot] org.