CTE Research

Many organizations, including the NFL and the NFLPA, have voiced support for CTE Center research and encourage athletes to participate when possible. Recently, when asked if league officials’ thinking has evolved, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league has “embraced research, embraced technology when it comes to the safety of our players. We always believe in getting better. We’re encouraging players to work with Dr. Cantu and all of the folks at Boston University.”


The UNITE Brain Bank is the largest tissue repository in the world focused on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and CTE. The UNITE Brain Bank research team conducts high-impact, innovative research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other long-term consequences of repetitive brain trauma in athletes and military personnel. The brain bank contains more than 1,200 brains, including over 700 brains that have been diagnosed with CTE using the recently defined NINDS criteria for the diagnosis of CTE. For more information on the neuropathological diagnosis of CTE, please see The Second NINDS/NIBIB Consensus Meeting to Define Neuropathological Criteria for the Diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Dr. McKee and her team of neuropathologists and other investigators have published a large number of studies focused on CTE (see below).

The UNITE Brain Bank:

Collects central nervous system tissue samples (brain, spinal cord, and eyes) from deceased athletes to better understand the long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Researchers at the UNITE Brain Bank are dedicated to improving understanding of the long-term consequences of mTBI and advancing the diagnosis, treatment, and care and for Veterans and civilians living with mTBI and CTE.

Reports findings to caregivers in a timely fashion

Stores and distributes optimally prepared tissue to qualified researchers around the world

Shares data and other findings with other researchers

The UNITE research team is focused on developing:

  • A diagnostic test for CTE in living persons
  • Genetic risk factors
  • Environmental risk factors
  • The importance of age at first exposure
  • The role of length of a playing career
  • Treatment for CTE

All publications of findings are de-identified (without a name and identifiable details) unless the CTE Center has received permission from the family to publicize the subject’s participation.

Family members of deceased athletes may donate their loved one’s brain and spinal cord after their death to the UNITE Brain Bank to be examined neuropathologically for evidence of CTE or other disorders of the central nervous system. The family member(s) will be interviewed for a history of their loved one, including their loved one’s athletic and concussion history, educational and occupational history, medical history, and history of cognitive, behavioral, and mood symptoms.

For additional information, please contact:

Evan Nair by phone at 617-358-5996 or Madeline Uretsky by phone at 617-358-6027. You can reach both Evan and Madeline on their 24/7 voicemail/pager at 617-992-0615.

For questions regarding your Brain Donation Registry Card, please be advised that we are in the process of transitioning to digital brain donor cards. No new physical brain donor cards will be mailed out at this time. We look forward to introducing you to our new brain donor card experience in the coming months. Thank you for your patience and continued support of brain donation and clinical research. Please email cardrequest@concussionfoundation.org for more information.