The effects of repetitive heading in soccer, outside the purview of recognized concussion, are a topic of
major public importance that has not been well defined. Recent work from our laboratory has shown
that repetitive sub-concussive soccer heading is associated with evidence of microstructural tissue
damage as well as cognitive impairments. We have found that there exists a threshold number of
heads per year whereby subclinical and clinical impairments are evident. Despite this evidence of
axonal and functional damage, we have not characterized individuals at greater and/or reduced risk for
deterioration from repetitive soccer heading. In this proposed study we will investigate trait biomarkers
hypothesized to have an association with neurodegenerative processes subsequent to brain injury.
Specifically, we will examine the effect-modifying role of the Apolipoprotein E, Cholesterol Esterase
Transfer Protein and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor polymorphisms. Furthermore, we will explore
the extent to which the ex-vivo inflammatory stress response can explain the heterogeneity in
outcomes. Under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Lipton and investigators with varying expertise
pertaining to the project, I am confident that I will accomplish my goal of identifying biomarkers that
confer greater vulnerability to heading related impairments. Furthermore, I will receive excellent training
in clinical research methods and basic science techniques alike, which will serve as an excellent
foundation for my ultimate goal of becoming an independent clinical Investigator.