Big Ten/CIC and Ivy League Host Head Injury Summit

Big Ten/CIC and Ivy League Host Head Injury Summit

Big Ten/CIC and Ivy League Host Head Injury Summit

Jul 29, 2013, 12:56 PM

The Big Ten Conference and the Ivy League, in conjunction with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), hosted the Big Ten-Ivy League Head Injury Summit on July 18-19 in Park Ridge, Ill. A total of 65 individuals from 23 institutions, representing each member institution from the Big Ten, Ivy League and CIC, participated in the two-day event in an effort to engage in collaborative discussions and to refine the strategic priorities of the historic, unprecedented research initiative that was announced by the conferences in June 2012.

The summit provided an open forum for the subject-matter experts in attendance to review the current clinical and research efforts that exist on each campus, and allowed the group to define the short- and long-term areas of emphasis to address.        

The first day of the summit provided an opportunity for the participants to discuss the history and vision of the collaboration, while also defining the goals and outcomes of the meeting. The group received a comprehensive analysis of the existing research literature on the topic of traumatic brain injury and sports from Thomson-Reuters representatives. Through this report, it was discovered that research papers on this topic that are authored by either a Big Ten/CIC or Ivy League institution are cited on a more frequent basis than research papers authored by other sources, and are published at a greater rate in top quartile journals. Further, research papers that are authored by a combination of both Big Ten/CIC and Ivy League institutions are cited at the highest rate in this category and are published in top quartile journals at the highest rate as well, showing the benefits of collaborative research between the Big Ten/CIC and Ivy League.  

The remainder of the afternoon on day one was spent discussing potential funding opportunities that exist for research initiatives, strategies for data collection amongst the member institutions, as well as the current partnerships that exist on campus between researchers and athletics. The first day concluded with round table discussions that focused on research collaborations between academics and athletics in the context of traumatic brain injury. Each group, which consisted of a cross-section of representatives from multiple institutions and disciplines, examined topics such as successes and challenges that exist in collaborative projects, as well as critical research priorities and opportunities to explore.

The summit concluded on day two with reports from the roundtable discussions, and review of next steps through the assignment of action items to address moving forward. Through the roundtable group reports, participants were able to see commonalities that existed amongst the different groups, as well as significant areas of emphasis that materialized. One particular area of emphasis that was identified was finding ways to collect meaningful, significant data that could be used in a central repository for surveillance and/or research purposes. The group created several working subcommittees to address specific next steps, including Institutional Review Board (IRB) processes, funding sources, project administration and staffing, among others. Representatives from both conferences will continue to communicate and develop objectives that can be addressed in a collaborative environment through a shared vision of student-athlete well-being.

Director of the University of Nebraska's Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, Dr. Dennis Molfese, said  "This first joint meeting of the Big Ten-Ivy League collaboration to advance research on concussion was historic. Our hope is that out of our discussions and presentations, groups of labs across both conferences will intensify their scientific efforts, developing points of collaboration that will ultimately advance the discussion on brain injury.  Such an effort just seems like a good idea to pursue - there is incredible talent cross the 23 world-class Universities that make up this collaboration. If we can obtain baseline/pre-concussion data and then track athletes longitudinally with all the tools and expertise that we possess, I think we can attain major breakthroughs in establishing a universal definition of concussion, better and more systematic ways to study recovery from brain injury, as well as more active and effective forms of intervention to restore cognitive and motor functions following brain injury.  We are attempting to do something that has not been done before - building the largest coordinated research task force involving all the major groups that work in one way or another with our student-athletes. As a result, we hope develop better training procedures to safeguard our athletes as well as better means of identification and intervention.” 

Remarking on the power of collaboration, Dr. Seymon Sloubonov, Director of Penn State Sports Concussion Research and Services, Professor of Kinesiology and Neurosurgery, said “Concussion in athletics is a growing public health concern with increased attention being focused on treatment and management of this puzzling epidemic. No single research laboratory, regardless of how well equipped and funded, is in a position to resolve a critical dilemma facing athletic trainers, coaches and medical practitioners: What is the time frame for safe return to sports participation after concussion?  I believe that the Big Ten-Ivy League Head Injury Summit has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to combine our intellectual resources in order to address numerous questions and controversies about sports-related concussion.  I was pleased to see a lot of enthusiasm among the participants to share their knowledge and, more importantly, to contribute to the filling scientific knowledge gaps at the junction between basic science and clinical management of sport-related concussions.”

Summit Agenda
List of Attendees

About the Committee on Institutional Cooperation

The CIC is the nation's premier higher education consortium of top-tier research institutions, including the Big Ten Conference members and the University of Chicago. Through collaboration CIC members save money, share assets, and increase teaching, learning and research opportunities. Founded in 1958, CIC members engage in voluntary, sustained partnerships such as library collections and access collaborations; technology collaborations to build capacity at reduced costs; purchasing and licensing collaborations through economies of scale; leadership and development programs for faculty and staff; programs that allow students to take courses at other institutions; and study-abroad collaborations. For more information, please visit or watch a short video on the consortium.

About the Big Ten Conference

The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in student-athletes’ lives and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based athletic programs of the 12 Big Ten institutions provide in excess of $141 million in direct financial aid to more than 8,200 student-athletes playing on more than 300 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 26 official conference sports, 13 for men and 13 for women, and will add men’s and women’s lacrosse as the 27th and 28th official sports for the 2014-15 academic year. For more information, visit

About the Ivy League

Founded in 1954, the Ivy League is the most diverse intercollegiate conference in the country with over 8,000 athletes competing each year. Sponsoring conference championships in 33 men's and women's sports, and averaging more than 35 varsity teams at each school, the Ivy League provides more intercollegiate athletic opportunities per school than any other conference in the country. All eight Ivy schools are among the top 20 of NCAA Division I schools in number of sports offered for both men and women. The Ivy League annually finishes among the top conferences in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics competitive rankings and enjoys regular competitive success at the highest championship levels of NCAA Division I athletics, including team and individual national championships in field hockey, fencing, men's ice hockey, women's rowing, men's and women's track & field and wrestling. Ivy League student-athletes annually compile the country's best records in the NCAA Academic Performance Ratings under the Ivy League model of athletics as a key part of the student's regular undergraduate experience. For more information, visit