NFL Alumni Teams Up With Hennepin County Medical Center to Make Memories & Support Brain Injury Research

SuperBrain2018 logo for wrapper2Pro-brain, pro-game event during Super Bowl LII week announced

On Thursday, October 12, 2017 Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) welcomes Ben Utecht and Lee Nystrom, former NFL players, to announce Super Brain 2018 – a fundraising event to support the Brain Injury Research Laboratory at HCMC.

Who:     Hennepin County Medical Center, NFL Alumni

What:    Super Brain 2018 event announcement

When:   Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 2pm

Where: Simulation Center, Hennepin County Medical Center, 615 South Sixth St., Mpls, MN 55415.

Utecht, the former University of Minnesota football standout who went on to play for the Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts (2007) is an advocate for brain health, having sustained several concussions as a player.

“Brain injury is unlike any other type of injury, because it can change who you are,” Utecht said. “Experiencing memory loss reminds me of how important my memories are in defining my identity.  More research is needed so that cutting edge treatment decisions can be made immediately after diagnosis.”

That’s the kind of research that’s being done at HCMC’s Brain Injury Research Lab, led by neurosurgeon Dr. Uzma Samadani.

“The mission of our lab is to classify, treat, and prevent brain injury, and improve brain health in our own community while creating innovative, sustainable solutions that can then be scaled to serve larger communities throughout the world,” explains Dr. Samadani, who is also the Rockswold Kaplan endowed chair for traumatic brain injury (TBI) research at HCMC and an Associate Professor in Neurosurgery with graduate appointments in Neuroscience and Bioinformatics at the University of Minnesota.

“Some of the evaluation tools we’re studying right now – eye tracking, blood-based biomarkers and imaging – are showing promise in the development of a standard approach to diagnosing brain injury, including concussion.”

HCMC’s research is supported by corporate partners including global healthcare company Abbott (blood serum markers), Oculogica (eye tracking) and Integra (brain oxygenation).

“We intend to use these measures to assess both acute (recent) and chronic effects of neurotrauma so that therapeutics can be targeted appropriately,” explains Dr. Samadani. “Thanks to the support from NFL Alumni for Super Brain 2018, our research will continue to make great strides and we’ll be even closer to developing diagnostic standards that will bring hope and healing for patients with brain injury.”

NFL Alumni is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and continues to assist and inform retired players and coaches in their post-NFL lives. The Alumni offers medical, financial, and social programs to keep members and their families healthy, productive, and connected.

“NFL Alumni is pleased to support Hennepin County Medical Center along with former players and their initiatives, especially as it relates to brain injury research,” said Elvis Gooden, Interim President and CEO of NFL Alumni. “Being part of this fundraiser not only aligns with our mission of ‘Caring for Our Own’ but also gives us the ability to raise awareness and continue progressing in the right step with these research efforts.”

Hennepin Health Foundation and NFL Alumni are making Super Brain 2018 an event you won’t forget. Tickets are available now

About NFL Alumni
image001NFL Alumni is a nationwide group of former NFL players, coaches, staffers, cheerleaders, spouses, and associate members whose mission is to serve, assist, and inform former players and their families. The Alumni offers a variety of medical, financial, educational, and social programs to help members lead healthy, productive, and connected lives, as well as community initiatives under its “Caring for Kids” programs. Pro Football Legends is the commercial marketing name and logo of NFL Alumni.

For more information, please visit

About HCMC’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program and Brain Injury Research Lab
Each year, more than 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI. Among children and young adults, TBI is the leading cause of death and disability. Nearly 100,000 brain injuries occur annually in Minnesota. As a Level I Trauma Center, Hennepin County Medical Center admits and treats the most traumatic brain injuries in the state.

For more information about the Brain Injury Research Lab at Hennepin County Medical Center, go to