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Professor Belli with the testing device

The University of Birmingham Life Sciences Business Engagement team recently attended ELEVATE - the elite sports, physical activity, health and performance conference - at the ExCel in London. High profile delegates included the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Football Association (FA), Nike and Opro and it was a great event to network and develop connections in these fields.

 Several University of Birmingham Academic Leads presented at ELEVATE 2019 including Dr Vicky Goodyear, who is Lecturer in Pedagogy in Sport, Physical Activity and Health in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences. Dr Goodyear led a session focusing on how digital technologies and social media impact on young people’s health and wellbeing.

 Professor Tony Belli, Academic Neurosurgeon at the University of Birmingham, also presented highlighting recent studies he has led to review and potentially enhance concussion diagnosis in football and rugby union through the development of a new test that looks for molecules in the blood, saliva or urine known as microRNAs, which can act as biomarkers to indicate whether the brain has suffered injury.

 The patented technology from the University of Birmingham is being commercially developed in partnership with Mirna Diagnostics Limited which owns the global patent licence of these biomarkers. This expands research also being carried out by the University of Birmingham and University Hospitals NHS Foundation Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), which began in 2017 and is currently ongoing, testing the urine and saliva of concussed RFU players. This research is part of the ongoing Repetitive Concussion in Sport (RECOS) study, being led by the University of Birmingham’s College of Medical and Dental Sciences and UHB through The National Institute for Health Research Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre.

In the future, it is hoped that the Birmingham Concussion Test could be used pitch-side and would have the potential to assist in return-to-play decisions or concussion diagnosis across sports, from grassroots to professional, in addition to military and other frontline settings.