The NFL announced on Thursday, Nov. 15, that it has awarded more than $35 million in grants to fund brain health and injury research.

As part of its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of athletes, the sports league picked researches that focus on neuroscience, including the prevalence of neurodegeneration on professional football athletes and how to reduce concussions in high school-aged players.

The grant is part of "Play Smart. Play Safe" initiative, the 2016 commitment to direct a total of $40 million to fund medical research.

NFL Funds Neuroscience Research

Five organizations will receive up to nearly $15 million of funding from the NFL through its Scientific Advisory Board. The biggest grant went to a team made up of researchers from the Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Led by William P. Meehan III, the researchers will receive $14,698,132 as funding for the study titled "A Prospective, LONGitudinal and Translational Study for Former National Football League Players."

The four other research will delve into neurodegeneration in professional football retirees, concussion, and traumatic brain injury. The remaining $5 million from the fund will be distributed under the guidance of Science Advisory Board Chairman Peter Chiarelli, according to the NFL.

NFL's Play Smart. Play Safe Initiative

In 2016, the NFL, together with its 32 club owners, pledged $100 million to its Play Smart. Play Safe initiative. About $60 million of the pledge went to technological developments aimed at improving the safety of players in the field, particularly the helmets they wear.

"The NFL has been a leader on health and safety in many ways, and we've made some real strides in recent years," stated NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "But when it comes to addressing head injuries in our game, I'm not satisfied, and neither are the owners of the NFL's 32 clubs. We can and will do better."

The move comes after the sports league was heavily scrutinized for how it's handling head injuries that athletes suffered while playing. Goodell said that he hopes the effort will produce safer measures to prevent athletes from incurring serious head injuries in the field in the coming years.

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