Concussion Researcher Won't Receive Award From BU

June 20, 2016

Two months after he found out he was to receive an award for his brain injury research, Bennet Omalu got a phone call: the award was off.

Omalu was first told about the Beyond Health Award, one of the Boston University School of Public Health’s highest honors, in April, according to The Boston Globe. The change came soon after Omalu was quoted in a Globe story about a conflict of interest between World Wrestling Entertainment and the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which is affiliated with Boston University. World Wrestling Entertainment has donated money to the foundation, and some criticized the foundation for focusing less on professional wrestlers.

“What I find very surprising is the timing of this, right after the [Globe] article,” Omalu told the Globe. “It feels like a vendetta against me.”

Omalu, the doctor depicted in the recent Will Smith movie Concussion, discovered the condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It’s a disease often found in professional athletes, and Omalu’s struggle to force the National Football League to recognize the disease has become well-known.

When Omalu asked for a written statement about why he would no longer receive the award, Sandro Galea, dean of the School of Public Health, sent an apology letter. At the 40th anniversary gala, he wrote, the school will be honoring people with “closer connections to our School of Public Health.”

“Dean Galea is giving the keynote address at the Carter Center’s November meeting and spoke at their annual meeting a few years ago,” Boston University spokesman Colin Riley told the Globe. “The decisions on the invitees are the dean’s.”

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