PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers team President, Art Rooney II, announced today the establishment of a new foundation, The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research, to support continued research and education regarding brain injuries and treatment of sports-related concussions. The Steelers organization will help launch the foundation with an initial contribution of $1 million.
Chuck Noll, for whom the Foundation is named, enjoyed a 23-year coaching career with the Steelers that culminated with his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Under his leadership, the Steelers became the first team in NFL history to win four Super Bowls. Noll’s commitment to the well-being of his players ultimately led to the development of the ImPACT test (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) used by NFL team doctors since 2007, and now internationally used to help monitor concussions for athletes at all levels. ImPACT and ImPACT Pediatric were recently recognized as safe and effective by the FDA, and are the only FDA approved tests to assess cognitive function for suspected brain injury in patients ages 5 to 60. To date, over 12 million athletes and patients have been baselined with these tests.
The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research will fund research which it believes is the most promising in the area of sports-related concussions and related conditions. To help best evaluate which research programs to fund, the Foundation will be served by a national medical advisory panel comprised of some of the most renowned neurosurgeons in the Country. The medical advisory panel will include:
Neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes (bio below)
- Dr. Bailes, specializing in brain and spine care, is a former team neurosurgeon for the Steelers and is internationally recognized for his pioneering work in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and is also the head of the medical advisory board to Pop Warner Football.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Regis Haid (bio below)
- Dr. Haid is a founding partner of the Atlanta Brain and Spine Care Center, a spinal research foundation regional center of excellence. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Neurosurgical Research and Educations Foundation, and the Lumbar Spine Research Society.
UPMC Neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon (bio below)
- Dr. Maroon was the first team-appointed neurosurgeon in the National Football League by the Steelers in 1982. Dr. Maroon is a professor and Vice Chairman of the Heindl Scholar in Neuroscience.
“The current practice for the evaluation for concussions and brain injuries in sports is due in large part to the support and encouragement of Chuck Noll,” said Maroon.
Funding decisions will be approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors, which will include former Steelers and NFL Player and current ESPN commentator, Merril Hoge (bio below). Hoge retired from his eight-year NFL career following two concussions that he suffered while playing for the Chicago Bears in 1994.
“I was part of the campaign in 1989 that addressed the importance of having kids wear helmets when active in all wheel sports,” said Hoge. “In 1990, Chuck Noll encouraged Dr. Maroon to come up with another tool to help evaluate player’s severity and state of a concussion. A year later, cognitive testing evolved from Dr. Maroon and Dr. (Mark) Lovell. It's only fitting that the Steelers continue to be the pioneer towards helping the game of football become safer for all those who love it. I am truly honored to be part of the Chuck Noll Foundation Board.”
In addition, Steelers co-owners Art Rooney II, Rob Citrone and Larry Paul will become members of the Board of Directors of the Foundation.
The Pittsburgh region has become a leading center for the research and treatment of sports-related concussion injuries. This is highlighted by the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, considered one of the most respected in the world for the treatment of sports concussions. In 2015, the UPMC Sport Medicine Concussion Program hosted a conference in Pittsburgh which included over 30 renowned Neurologists, clinicians and researchers from around the country. The experts gathered to share the latest research in concussion treatment, and propose standards and guidelines on the best practices, protocols and active therapies for successfully treating concussions. A key result of the conference was a joint statement affirming that concussions are treatable.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers are extremely committed to the science of brain research and the evaluation of treatments for sports-related concussions,” said Rooney II. “We are pleased to be part of the launch of this important research foundation, and are committed to helping support the funding of research efforts. I cannot think of anyone more fitting for the Foundation to be named after than Chuck Noll. His contribution to advancing the way sports-related injuries are diagnosed and treated is immeasurable.”
Dr. Julian E. Bailes, MD
Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute.
Dr. Bailes’ expertise is in neurovascular disease. Dr. Bailes is a recognized leader in the field of neurosurgery and the impact of brain injury on brain function. He has been instrumental in the understanding of the clinical evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease found in individuals who have been subjected to multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. His laboratory research has focused upon mechanisms and treatment of cerebral concussions. Dr. Bailes also is a founding member and director of the Brain Injury Research Institute, which focuses on the study of traumatic brain injuries and their prevention. Dr. Bailes previously served for 11 years as the Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine where he specialized in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of cerebrovascular disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. Since 1994, he has been a neurological consultant to the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), which has supported research on the effects of head injuries on professional athletes. He is the Medical Director of the Center for Study of Retired Athletes based at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has been an advisor to the NCAA and also is the Medical Director for Pop Warner Football, the largest youth sports association in the U.S.
Dr. Bailes has over 120 scientific publications concerning various aspects of neurological surgery, including three books on neurological sports medicine, and performs editorial duties for a number of medical journals. Dr. Bailes has been honored as one of the nation’s best surgeons for eight consecutive years in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Doctors” and “America’s Top Surgeons.”
Regis W. Haid, Jr., M.D.
Dr. Haid received his undergraduate degree in 1978 from the University of Notre Dame with majors in philosophy and theology, and a minor in classical literature. He was honored with awards as a member of the Notre Dame Rugby team. In Rugby, he was selected “All Midwest,” “All American Rugby Football Union,” played on the United States Pan American Rugby team, and was invited to try out for the United States rugby team, the Eagles.
He received his MD at West Virginia University in 1982 with membership in Alpha Omega Alpha, serving as President of his class. He completed his neurosurgical residency in 1988 at West Virginia University. A Fellowship with Dr. Joseph Maroon in Pittsburgh, Pa., was performed in 1986. In 1988-89, he was Clinical Instructor at the University of Florida, where he also completed a one-year Fellowship in Spine Surgery. He served in the United States Air Force at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas from 1989-93. He joined the faculty at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia in 1993 as Associate Professor, and was promoted to Professor in 2001. During that time, he was Director of the Spinal Fellowship Program.
In 2003, he was a founding partner of Atlanta Brain and Spine Care, a Spinal Research Foundation Regional Center of Excellence. He is Medical Director of the Piedmont Spine Center and Neuroscience Service Line, Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta, Ga. A renowned surgeon and educator, Dr. Haid has been visiting professor at 30 universities worldwide. He has been a Course Director more than 280 times, lectured at over 190 Spinal Courses, and presented over 500 papers. As a widely published author, Dr. Haid has contributed over 135 scientific articles to peer-reviewed journals, is presently editing his twelfth textbook, and has written more than 85 chapters on the treatment of spinal disorders.
Dr. Haid has been honored as the Richard C. Schneider Lecturer for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons; the Charles Drake Lecturer for the University of Virginia; and the Canadian Neurosurgical Society (CNSS) Penfield Lecturer for the Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences. He is the first Neurosurgeon to be invited to give these three lectures.
Dr. Haid has served on the Editorial and Review Boards of several leading journals, including Journal of Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery-Spine, Neurosurgery, Spine, The Spine Journal, Journal of Spinal Disorders, Neuro-Orthopaedics, Spinal Surgery, Surgical Neurology, Contemporary Neurosurgery, and Clinical Neurosurgery. Dr. Haid is a member of the SpineUniverse Editorial Board and serves on the SpineUniverse Editorial Committee.
His research interests include spinal reconstruction techniques, with a number of patents and implants concerning such techniques as cervical lateral mass plating, anterior cervical plating, posterior, anterior, lateral and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion techniques, cervical arthroplasty, lateral lumbar fusion and posterior thoraco-lumbar instrumentation. His patents include the first artificial cervical spine disc joint cleared by the FDA. His designed implants for spinal reconstruction are used worldwide.
He has been listed in the "Best Doctors of America" since 1994, and Consumers Research of America lists him as a "Top Surgeon". Dr. Haid is also an active member and leader within several professional neurosurgical and spinal societies, including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the Neurosurgical Society of America and the Cervical Spine Research Society.
He is a former Chairman of the Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerve, the leading organization for Neurosurgical Spinal Surgeons. He has received the Meritorious Service Award from the Joint Spine Section. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Think First Foundation, as well as the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery (FIENS), and the International Meeting of Advanced Spine Techniques (Scoliosis Research Society).
He serves on the Board of Governors of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, ranked second by US News in Art Schools; and the third largest art museum in the world. He is on the Board of Directors of the AANS (American Association of Neurological Surgeons), as well as the NREF (Neurosurgical Research and Educational Foundation) and the Lumbar Spine Research Society.
Dr. Haid and Mary Ellen have the blessing of children: Meghan, Katie, Sam, Holly, Mary Elizabeth and Elenore and five grandchildren.
Dr. Joseph C. Maroon
Professor and Vice Chairman, Heindl Scholar in Neuroscience
Department of Neurological Surgery University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Joseph C. Maroon, MD, FACS is a board certified clinical professor of neurosurgery. His clinical and research interests have been in the development of minimally invasive surgical procedures for the brain and spine, the prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injuries and complimentary approaches to inflammatory diseases associated with aging. He co-developed ImPACT™, the first neurocognitive computerized system used to assess concussion severity and assist with timing for return to contact sports. It is the only FDA approved test for concussion evaluation (2016). Dr. Maroon has been the neurosurgical consultant for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 34 years. He has been a member of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee since 2007.
Dr. Maroon is past-president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Honored as one of America’s Best Neurosurgeons annually, he has published five books, has written over 280 peer-reviewed papers and 54 book chapters. Despite his busy professional schedule, he has competed in over 80 triathlon events. These include eight ironman distance triathlons (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2 mile run) in Hawaii (1993, 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2013), Canada (1995), New Zealand (1997) and Europe (2000). In 2016, he was ranked 4th in his age group nationally. He was inducted into the Lou Holtz Hall of Fame, with Joe Montana and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, for his athletic accomplishments and contributions to sports medicine. In 2010, he was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in Chicago. As medical director of the Live Free African Freedom Tour, on February 26, 2014 he, along with a group of amputees, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
Former NFL running back Merril Hoge is an analyst for a variety of ESPN programs, including NFL Live, NFL Matchup, NFL PrimeTime and SportsCenter. He also contributes insight and analysis to ESPN’s annual Super Bowl and NFL Draft coverage and appears on multiple platforms, including ESPN Radio and ESPN.com. Hoge, who joined ESPN in 1996 as a game analyst and sideline reporter for ESPN2’s college football coverage, also called Arena Football League telecasts in 2007 and in the late 1990s.
An eight-year NFL veteran, Hoge spent 1987-93 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was the team’s starting running back for six of those seasons. He set the team record for most receptions by a running back, totaling 50 in 1988 and was one of only two Steelers to rush for more than 100 yards in back-to-back playoff games. He concluded his career in 1995 with the Chicago Bears after suffering a series of concussions. At the time of his retirement, Hoge had played in 122 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL at that time.
A 1987 graduate of Idaho State University with a degree in education and minor in health and fitness, Hoge set 11 school records, including both single-season and career marks for rushing attempts, rushing yards, and all-purpose yards. He also scored 44 touchdowns, a Big Sky Conference record.
Outside of his television work, Hoge is Chairman and a member of the board of the Highmark Caring Foundation, which has created four centers in Pennsylvania (downtown and suburban Pittsburgh, Erie and Harrisburg) for grieving children, adolescents and their families who have lost loved ones. The foundation is particularly meaningful to Hoge, who lost his mother when he was just 21 years old.
Hoge, who battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2003, received the Chairman’s Advocacy Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2004 and 2008 for his outstanding participation in driving awareness for LLS and its mission. Hoge is also extremely active in concussion research and in the prevention and treatment of brain injuries. In the fall of 2009, Hoge testified at a congressional hearing on head injuries in football, and, in January 2010, he was appointed to the NFL MTBI Committee, which initiates research and advises the NFL on best practices for concussion prevention and management. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also asked Hoge in 2011 to serve on the NFL’s Return-to-Play Subcommittee which deals with head, neck and spine cases.
Hoge was named in March 2010 to the board of directors for USA Football, the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels, and in March 2011 he participated in the NFL-USO Tour to Afghanistan with Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, visiting troops overseas. In September 2010, Hoge released his first book, “Find a Way: Three Words That Changed My Life,” about the life philosophy that has guided him and enabled him to overcome obstacles throughout his life.