Ann McKee has devoted her life to neuropathology, and one thing is certain: She has the brains to back up that career choice. More than 500 of them, in fact.
As the director of Boston University’s CTE Center, she is amassing the world’s largest collection of athlete brains to study the long-term effects of football and other sports. McKee, who received her MD from the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, has studied neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s for decades. She examined her first professional football player in 2008, a former Houston Oilers linebacker, who started exhibiting cognitive problems at age 40. The following year, McKee testified before Congress about the dangers of head injuries in American football, and she has since gone on to carry out the largest-ever study of NFL football player brains. The groundbreaking work, published in 2017, offers compelling evidence for the link between repetitive head impacts in football and neurodegenerative disease.