ISSUED: 5 December 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix recently participated in the National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI) Scientific Symposium and Service to Science Awards Dinner in Philadelphia where the physician played by Will Smith in the 2015 film “Concussion” was honored. NDRI awarded the D. Walter Cohen Service to Science Award to Dr. Bennet I. Omalu, the doctor who first identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football players.
NDRI is a nonprofit organization that provides human tissue to scientists for research. Hendrix is chair of the organization’s board of directors.
The November 18 scientific symposium that preceded the awards dinner included two panel discussions—“Relief: the Role of Human Tissue in Pain Research” and “Impact: Brain Tissue as the Fuel of Scientific Discovery.” Dr. Julian E. Bailes, Jr., former chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine and a leader in the field of neurosurgery, who was portrayed in the film by Alec Baldwin, participated in the panel discussion on using brain tissue in research. Omalu delivered the keynote address at the symposium, discussing the importance of human tissue donation in studying CTE in athletes, military veterans, and others.
NDRI also honored a Doylestown, Pennsylvania, woman, Karen Zegel, with the 2016 Outstanding Donation Advocacy Award for her work in promoting CTE research. Zegel’s 32-year-old son, Patrick Risha, committed suicide in 2014. An autopsy showed Risha, who began playing football at age 10, suffered from CTE. Zegel started the Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation in honor of her son to help prevent CTE, especially in children.
Hendrix said each of these individuals and others who participated in the conference play an important role in enhancing the lives of those suffering from CTE by finding ways through research to prevent and treat it.
— 30 —