UCSF's Berger to Join NFL Committee on Concussions

March 17, 2010
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The NFL on Tuesday selected two new co-chairmen for a policy committee to reduce head, neck and spine injuries that will include Dr. Mitch Berger, chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UCSF.

The two new co-chairs of the committee are H. Hunt Batjer, chair of neurological surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, Ill., and Richard G. Ellenbogen, the chief of neurological surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Both were chosen by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to lead the NFL's head, neck and spine medical committee, which was previously called the mild traumatic brain injury committee — named after the common scientific term for concussion — since its founding in 1994, according to the New York Times.

The NFL announced that the co-chairs already tapped Berger to join the committee.

Berger is internationally recognized for his expertise in treating brain and spinal cord tumors and tumor-related epilepsy in adults and children. He is a specialist in brain mapping techniques used to identify areas of motor, sensory and language function to avoid injury during surgery, and is an expert in the use of the Gamma Knife for tumor treatment.

At UCSF, Berger is director of the Brain Tumor Research Center and director of the Center for Neurological Injury and Repair. He was an all-Ivy League defensive end at Harvard and tried out for the Chicago Bears in 1974.

"My No. 1 goal is to make the game safer at every level and to ensure that the players will have a healthy future after they finish playing," Berger told the New York Times.

Berger earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard College in 1975 and a medical degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1979. He completed an internship and residency at UCSF and was awarded a clinical fellowship in neuro-oncology by the American Cancer Society and a research fellowship with the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center. Berger completed further fellowship training in neuro-oncology at UCSF and in pediatric neurosurgery at the Hospital for Sick Children of the University of Toronto, Canada. Berger is board-certified in neurosurgery. He joined the faculty of UCSF as chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery in 1997.