An Appleton native who will serve as the keynote speaker at the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region’s annual luncheon Sept. 7 received international attention this week when the Journal of the American Medical Association published the largest study to date of brain injury in former American football players.
Dr. Ann McKee, director of the Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center at Boston University and chief neuropathologist of the brain banks at the VA Boston Healthcare System, which did much of the research, found that 110 of 111 brains from former NFL professional football players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The degenerative brain injury is caused by repeated blows to the head and is commonly associated with memory loss, confusion, balance problems, depression and dementia.
McKee was quoted Tuesday on CNN, by the Associated Press, in the Washington Post and numerous other news outlets. She cautioned that the study’s results don’t reflect the general population because the sample was determined by family members with concerns about the former players’ behavior, but “we urgently need to find answers for not just football players, but veterans and other individuals exposed to head trauma.”
McKee is the sister of Appleton physician Dr. Charles McKee. She is the mother of three and lives in Massachusetts.
Her talk for the Women’s Fund will center on her personal story as a woman in science and how the strong moral base she developed growing up here has given her the courage to face the sometimes difficult responses to her research. The Community Foundation is a lead sponsor of the event.
The luncheon begins at 10 a.m. at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton with grant displays and an issue forum on traumatic brain injury at 10:15. Lunch and the main program are scheduled for 11:25 a.m.
The Women’s Fund started as a fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region in 1994. In 2005, it became a supporting organization of the Community Foundation — meaning it receives office support from the Foundation, but operational decisions are made by its own board of directors. It is located in the Foundation’s office at 4455 W. Lawrence St., Appleton.