In 2002, Dr. Omalu made a career breakthrough when he became the first doctor to discover and identify chronic brain damage as a major factor in the deaths of some professional athletes. He called the disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which he first discovered as the result of an autopsy he performed on Mike Webster—one of the best Centers in NFL history. “Iron Mike”, the legendary Pittsburgh Steeler and Hall of Famer, died at age 50, his brain revealing something doctors had never seen before. Within five years of reporting on Webster’s case, Dr. Omalu went on to identify CTE in eight more deceased NFL players. He was also the first to discover CTE in military veterans diagnosed with PTSD, as well as professional wrestlers. But his findings were summarily dismissed—and even ridiculed—by his professional peers, the NFL, and the sports industry. The NFL even made a concerted effort to retract Dr. Omalu’s published papers. But he stood his ground in search of the truth.
Today, CTE has become generally accepted and Dr. Omalu’s findings have revolutionized neuroscience, sports medicine and safety, the study of all types of brain trauma, and the entire sports industry. In 2015, Omalu’s life and work will be chronicled in a book and film, both titled Concussion. The book is set for release in November 2015 and Will Smith will portray Dr. Bennet Omalu in the film, which hits theaters Christmas Day, 2015.
Dr. Bennet Omalu brings to the stage a rare combination of humility and fervor, as he shares his story of going from humble beginnings in war-torn Nigeria to becoming one of the biggest disrupters in the history of sports and medicine. He details the challenges he faced taking on the NFL and other top US franchises to ensure that the truth—and risk—of chronic brain damage was known, understood, accepted, and at all costs, prevented. He also discusses the biases and obstacles he overcame as an African immigrant staunchly committed to studying medicine in the U.S. and rising to the top of his field, despite all odds.
- Overcoming Biases in Every Endeavor
- Don't Break the Rules, Change the Game
- The Mustard Seed Effect
- Dream the Dream Bigger