SAN DIEGO -- The Junior Seau Foundation pledged $250,000 Wednesday to support brain injury research and education at UC San Diego.
The gift was made in memory of NFL Hall of Famer and longtime San Diego Charger Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated blows to the head.
The funds will be used to establish the Junior Seau Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as the Junior Seau Lectureship Series to inform the community and K-12 students about the causes and risks associated with traumatic brain injury, according to the university.
"As one of the world's premier institutions for brain research, UC San Diego shares the Junior Seau Foundation's strong commitment to studying the brain in an effort to find better ways of treating and preventing neurodegenerative diseases caused by traumatic brain injury," UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla said. "We are so grateful to the foundation for its generosity in supporting scientific research and education in this area."
Boosting the impact of the Seau Foundation's gift, the donation will be matched dollar for dollar as part of the UC San Diego Chancellor's Endowed Chair and Faculty Fellowship Challenge, as well as by the university's Division of Biological Sciences and the Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, bringing total funding to $1 million.
"We are pleased to provide this support to UC San Diego," said Jay Kawano, president of the Junior Seau Foundation. "Junior would have been passionate about building our understanding of the disease that he battled, as well as educating young people about CTE and TBI, and how they can be prevented."
The Junior Seau Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Traumatic Brain Injury will be used to attract or retain a rising academic star whose basic sciences research is related to TBI.
"Junior was dedicated to community outreach and supporting young people with access to healthcare, education, recreation and safety from harm," Kawano said. "Empowering students with information about the brain and the risks from trauma would have been important to him."