NIH (like CDC) has an industry slush fund, with NFL its largest donor, allowing NFL veto power over concussion research/ ESPN

The story about the NIH funding for concussion research is confusing, because neither NIH nor the NFL will say exactly what transpired.  But the NFL gave (or merely promised) $30 million to the NIH Foundation in 2012.  But it seems there were strings attached.  NFL was unhappy with a researcher given the NIH grant, and appears to have rescinded the money–refusing to pay for the study that NIH promised to fund, apparently using NFL money.  Now NIH says it will fund the study itself. Under what set of conditions does the NIH Foundation take industry money, one might ask?  

We’ve learned that, like CDC, NIH has a Foundation (the Foundation for NIH, or FNIH) which seems to be a conduit through which it can receive industry funds and do industry bidding, while the taxpayer funds NIH to the tune of $30 billion/year.  The 30 million dollar NFL grant to FNIH is said to be the largest the Foundation has received.

According to ESPN

The NFL, which spent years criticizing researchers who warned about the dangers of football-related head trauma, has backed out of one of the most ambitious studies yet on the relationship between football and brain disease, sources familiar with the project told Outside the Lines…

From 2003 to 2009, the NFL published its own research denying that football players get brain damage; much of that research was later discredited. But since then, the NFL has poured tens of millions of dollars into concussion research, allowing the league to maintain a powerful role on an issue that directly threatens its future…

Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of the NIH’s National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, told Outside the Lines this week that he had asked the FNIH over a period of several months if the NFL would be providing funding for the study but never received a definitive response. He said he attempted to expand the study over the summer to include other researchers — a proposal that might have satisfied the league. But the NIH ultimately decided to fund the study on its own… 

The NFL’s $30 million grant — its largest single donation — is administered by the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), a nonprofit organization that solicits donations for NIH research… 

From the Foundation for NIH: 

“The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health procures funding and manages alliances with public and private institutions in support of the mission of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the premier medical research agency…
The FNIH was established by Congress in 1990 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Foundation began its work in 1996 to facilitate groundbreaking research at the NIH and worldwide. As an independent organization, it raises private funds and creates public private partnerships to support the mission of the NIH—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives.”

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