In the aftermath of the suicide of Junior Seau the most pressing question was if the family was going to allow researchers to study his brain in-depth. It has now been reported that the Seau family has agreed to this as Michael O’Keeffe wrote last night;
Two research groups — the Brain Injury Research Institute and Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy — made bids to persuade Seau’s family to donate his brain to them within 24 hours after the Pro Bowl linebacker’s death.
It sounds ghoulish for scientists to vie for a beloved athlete’s brain so soon after his death, but the researchers needed to let the Seau family know of their interest before it makes arrangements for his remains. “You can’t do this kind of test on a living person,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, the director of the Brain Injury Research Institute.[…]
“Either they get it or we get it,” Bailes said Thursday before the Seau family told BIRI it would donate Junior’s brain to the Boston researchers. Bailes said it could help researchers determine if genetics play a role in CTE, or whether concussions — as opposed to repeated, but less serious, blows to the head — are necessary to bring on CTE.
“This specimen needs to be examined,” Bailes said. “It doesn’t matter who does it. There are only two groups doing this kind of work.”
Although the BIRI – also headed by Garrett Webster, son of Mike Webster – may not have procured the brain of Seau they reportedly did have access during the autopsy. Meaning that if the family agreed both groups could be working on this, not unlike the Andre Waters study;
The forensic pathologist who first identified chronic brain damage as a factor in the deaths of some NFL players flew to San Diego on Thursday to participate in the autopsy of former All-Pro linebacker Junior Seau, two sources with knowledge of the case told ESPN.com.
The pathologist, Bennet Omalu, assisted in the autopsy conducted by the San Diego County medical examiner because of his experience with NFL players and brain injuries, the sources said.
The article on ESPN written by Mark Fainaru-Wata and brother Steve Fainaru also touched on the dynamics we spoke of yesterday regarding the Omalu and Boston split;
Omalu, Bailes and Nowinski once worked together on the CTE issue but split over philosophical differences. The clash between the two groups over the acquisition of brains for CTE research, particularly in NFL players, is an ongoing issue and was documented in an ESPN article last year.