'Concussion' Producer Giannina Scott to Lead Bennet Omalu Foundation
The newly launched foundation aims to further research for traumatic injuries and present findings to the NFL.
With Will Smith’s upcoming film Concussion spotlighting the impact of football-related brain injuries, the film's producers, Giannina Scott and her husband, Ridley Scott, hope to pick up where the film has left off.
Giannina Scott has now been named president and CEO of the newly launched Bennet Omalu Foundation, which will aim to find cures and raise public awareness for those who suffer traumatic brain injuries and eventually present findings to the NFL.
The launch of the foundation continues the series of events depicted in Concussion, which follows Dr. Omalu’s breakthrough discoveries of traumatic brain injuries found in football players, including the late Frank Gifford. Smith portrays Omalu, who blew the cover off the NFL after discovering that the trauma endured by football players was causing them to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease.
The foundation will partner with the University of Pittsburgh, home to where Omalu discovered CTE in NFL players, first with former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster. Concussion was based on the 2009 GQ article "Game Brain" by the director of the university’s writing program, Jeanne Marie Laskas, who has recently likened the NFL to the tobacco industry.
"I was so inspired by Bennet, by his selflessness, his generosity,” said Scott in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “He gave up everything to bring this information to the world, and it didn't matter how much they tried to stop him, everything he lost, he continued his work."
She continued: “Since 2002, CTE has been found in the brains of over 90 NFL players and other athletes, including wrestlers and hockey players. It has also been identified in the brains of deceased military veterans, domestic abuse victims and others. This is a disease that afflicts people, and their families, from all walks of life, and deserves our attention and resources to help find a cure.”
The foundation plans to raise awareness of future findings with support from the arts and entertainment community. The Scotts, Marie Laskas and Concussion director Peter Landesman will serve as trustees of the foundation.
"I am grateful for Jeanne Marie Laskas, Giannina Scott, Sony Pictures and everyone connected to the Foundation for bringing CTE and brain injuries to people's attention through the film Concussion," Omalu said in a statement. "But this is just the beginning. CTE is a relatively new disease that requires additional research to understand how it develops, and hopefully to find treatments and a cure. By supporting research, our focus is to establish the science behind this disease and provide this information to the public."