WSJ: The Doctor the NFL Tried to Silence

| November 26, 2015

Jeanne Marie Laskas of The Wall Street Journal recently published an excellent story about Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who published “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player” and the NFL’s response to his publication and his conclusions.  His humble beginnings, hard work, dedication and subsequently his fight for what he believed in following an autopsy he performed over the weekend as the junior pathologist are truly inspiring not only for pathologists but for anyone who stands up for what they believe in.

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Dr. Omalu @ CAP ’15

Dr. Omalu spoke at CAP ’15, our national meeting for the College of American Pathologists and in part, aside from the case and scientific data itself and similar cases, he spoke pathologist to pathologists about making sure that your administrators understand we are the domain experts when it comes to knowing what our laboratories need.  He mentioned a number of instances where he had to fight for resources to do his job but it is our job to do so and to educate and explain to other stakeholders how valuable we are and getting necessary resources to be successful.

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With Dr. Omalu and fellow Spartan and former Army pathologist, Dr. Anne Champeaux @ CAP ’15

His life story and experiences with CTE following the autopsy of Mike Webster are of course the upcoming subject of Concussion, starring Will Smith as Dr. Omalu, to be released next month on Christmas.  Following his keynote address at CAP ’15 several of us had a chance to meet with him briefly and he assured us that the movie will present pathologists in a very favorable light and “will make us proud to be pathologists”.

WebMD also has a nice video interview and tribute included in the WSJ article.

In 2002, a Pittsburgh neuropathologist named Bennet Omalu, a native of Nigeria, examined the body of 50-year-old former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster. At the end of his life, Webster had suffered a steep mental decline, becoming violent, depressed and forgetful and pushed to increasingly desperate lengths to battle chronic pain. In Webster’s brain, Dr. Omalu, who holds multiple advanced degrees and certifications from top American medical schools, discovered what would mark a turning point in the evolution of thinking about the effects of head injuries in professional football. The following excerpt is from “Concussion” published this week by Random House, and is based on the author’s interviews and other research. Laskas’s reporting is the focus of a forthcoming movie by the same name.

In July 2005, nearly three years after he first saw the body of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, Bennet Omalu’s paper about Webster’s brain is finally published in Neurosurgery: “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player.”

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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