In 2014, a cooperative grant from the National Institute of Heath (NIH) – bolstered by major funding from the National Football League (NFL) – was awarded to Dr. McKee and her research team. The UNITE study (Understanding Neurologic Injury and Traumatic Encephalopathy) is a retrospective analysis of, professional and amateur athletes, Veterans and other individuals who sustained cumulative repetitive traumatic brain injury(s) (TBI) before passing away.

Eligible participant’s brains are subsequently donated to the VA-BU-SLI Brain Bank at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in partnership with the Boston Veterans Administration and the Sports Legacy Institute, for pathological examination and analysis. In concert with pathological analysis, family members or loved ones of the decedent provide retrospective medical and behavioral data. Over the next four-years the our goal is to address the following aims:

  • Establish consensus criteria for the pathological diagnosis of CTE to differentiate it from other neurodegenerative diseases;
  • Establish a nationwide brain donation program for TBI;
  • Examine the relationship between cumulative brain trauma, clinical symptoms, substance abuse, & rigorous quantitative regional assessment of tau, Aß, & axonal pathology in CTE and sTBI;
  • Determine the neuroimaging signatures of CTE neuropathology.