An indigen of Anambra State, a Professor in the University of California, Davis, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is the United State-based Nigerian Doctor Bennet Omalu.
He is well experienced in the medical field and has bagged seven degrees including Masters in business administration.
Dr Omalu fame is traced to the discovery of a neurodegenerative disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is caused by repeated head injuries and it comes with symptoms of depression, mood swings and suicidal attempts.
The discovery of CTE first surfaced after the death of Mike Webster a former Pittsburgh Steeler. After carrying out an autopsy on him, his brain was normal but Omalu suspected he had dementia pugilistica which is caused by repeated head blows.
For confirmation’s sake, Omalu personally financed test, on tissue analysis and discovered that Webster had Tau tissue which affects moods and emotion This is particular to boxers.
Together with his colleagues at the University of California, they made a publication titled “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player”.
He supposed that the publication will be of help to the NFL medical team. And it will help profer solutions to the disease.
But to his disappointment, members of NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) committee asked for a retraction and they called his publication a failure.
Omalu, been so sure of his research refused discouragement. He published his second neurosurgical work after carrying out research on former NFL player Terry John who died in 2005 by suicide. Like Webster, Long also experienced mood swings, depression. Dr Omalu discovered Long suffered from Tau tissue.
He also found same in Justin Strzelcyk, Andrew Waters and Tom Mcttale. They died in their late 30’s and some in died in their early 40. From these findings, Omalu authored a book titled “Play Hard and Die Young: Football Dementia, Depression, and Death, published in 2008.
The NFL still didn’t publicly acknowledge the link between concussions sustained in football and long-term neurological effects until after seven years of his publication (December 2009).
In 2016 Omalu received an award for his work by the American Medical Association. He was awarded their highest honour, for Distinguished Service Award, for his work on CTE.
His findings were the reason behind the ” Concussion Movie” where Will Smith acted as Dr Omalu.