RFU release BRAIN study video


IOM is a partner in the BRAIN study is a major scientific study of former England rugby internationals, examining the possible long-term effects of the game on brain health and the possible link between a history of concussion and neurodegenerative disease in former rugby players.

The project partners including IOM are the RFU, and leading academics from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, University College London and Oxford University.

The RFU is today releasing a video explaining the study. You can view the video here.

The in-depth research is gathering data on the retired players’ quality of life and social circumstances and asks them to complete an extensive set of tests capturing physical and cognitive capabilities and a neurological clinical examination. The study involves face-to-face assessments either in a clinic setting or during home visits. 

Evidence is accumulating on the possible increased risks of neurodegenerative diseases including Dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Dementia and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in former contact sports athletes.

Different sports expose players to different types of head impact events. While results from several studies have suggested an increased risk of various neurological disorders, this has not yet been established, and this study represents an opportunity to provide an evidence-based, high-quality study of a large group of former rugby players.

To find out further information you can email BRAINstudy@lshtm.ac.uk or call 07949 533818 to book an assessment.

Follow #BRAINstudy for more project updates.

About the Author
Prof Damien McElvenny Principal Epidemiologist

Principal Epidemiologist

Damien is a biostatistician and epidemiologist working in the Data Science and Epidemiology Team of Research Group and is a chartered statistician.  He has over 35 years' experience working in a variety roles relating to the statistical analysis of health data in the public and private sector.  Damien joined IOM in 2011 and has successfully led many research projects including those related to cancer in the lead, rubber and hard-metal industries as well as projects on shift work and cancer and trauma and cancer.  He has led a number of consultancy projects, including medico-legal reports on clinical and occupational epidemiology.  Damien is IOM's lead for the BRAIN and HEADING studies that are examining the effect of concussion and heading football on elite and professional sportspersons.  He is an Honorary Member of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and the Society of Occupational Medicine.



  • BSc (Hons)
  • MSc
  • PhD
  • CStat
  • Hon FFOM


  • Independent Scientific Member, Industrial Injuries Advisory Council
  • Royal Statistical Society
  • International Commission on Occupational Health,  Epidemiology Scientific Committee (EPICOH)
  • Secretary UK/Ireland Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Society
  • Assistant Editor, Occupational Medicine


  • Meta-analyses and systematic reviews
  • Occupational epidemiology (respiratory disease, cancer, neurological disorders, mental health, musculoskeletal disorders)
  • Disease cluster investigations
  • Medico-legal reports (statistical and epidemiological)
  • Risk assessment
  • Health impact assessment


  • Schlünssen V, Baptist du Prel J, van Tongeren M, Godderis L, Turner MC, McElvenny D.  Development of Harmonized COVID-19 Occupational Questionnaires.  Ann Work Exp Health 2002.  Epub ahead of print.
  • Schlünssen V, Baptist du Prel J, van Tongeren M, Godderis L, Turner MC, McElvenny D.  Development of Harmonized COVID-19 Occupational Questionnaires.  Ann Work Exp Health 2002.  Epub ahead of print.
  • Mijakoski D, Cheptea D, Marca SC, Shoman Y, Caglayan C, Bugge MD, et al.  Derminants of burnout among teachers: a systematic review of longitudinal studies.  Int J Environ Res Publ Health 2022; 19, 5776
  • Martyn Y, McElvenny D.  Role of shift work in dietary changes among Danish nurses.  Occup Med 2022, Online ahead of print.
  • Pizarro AB, Persad E, Durao S, Nussbaumer-Streit B, Engela-Volker JS, McElvenny D et al.  Workplace Interventions to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection outside of healthcare settings (Review).  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 5.  Art. No.: CD015112.
  • Guseva Canu I, Gailleb-Guidy A, Antilla A, Charles S, Fraize-Frontier S, Luce D, et al.  Lung cancer mortality in the European cohort of titanium dioxide workers: a reanalysis of the exposure-response relationship.  Occup Env Med.  Epub ahead of print.
  • Basinas I, McElvenny DM, Pearce N, Gallo V, Cherrie JW.  A systematic review of head impacts and acceleration associated with soccer.  Int J Envrion Res Publ Health 2022; 19: 5488.
  • James L, Davies MAM, Mian S, Seghezzo J, Williamson E, Kemp S, Arden NK, McElvenny D, Pearce N, Gallo V.  The BRAIN-Q, a toole for assessing self-reported sport-related concussions in epidemiological studies.  Prev Med 2021.  Epub ahead of print.
  • Gallo V, McElvenny DM, Seghezzo H, Kemp S, Williamson E, Mian S et al.  Concussion and long term cognitive function among rugby players – the BRAIN study.  Alzheimer’s Dement 2021; 1-13
  • Aktas E, Bergbom B, Godderis L, Kreshpai B, Marinov M, Mates D, McElvenny DM, Mehlum IS, Milenkova V, Nena E, Glass DG.  Migrant workers occupational health research an OMEGA-NET working group position paper.  Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2021.  doi: 10.1007/s00420-021-01803-x.
  • Grime P, McElvenny DM, Madan I.  Factors associated with sickness absence in a large NHS Trust.  Occup Med 2021.
  • Pizzaro AB, Persad E, Durao S, Nussbaumer-Streit B, Garritty C, et al.  Worplace intervention to reduce risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection outside of healthcare settings (Protocol).  Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021 9 Art No: CD01511.
  • Shoman Y, El May E, Marca SC, Wild P, Boanchi R, Bugge MD et al.  Predictors of Burnout: A Systematic Review.  Int J Env Res Publ Health 2021, 18, 9188.
  • Seghezzo G, Van Hoecke Y, James L, Davoren D, Williamson E, Pearce N et al.  Feasibility study of assessing the preclinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC) score via videoconferencing.  J Neurol 2021: 268(6): 2228-37.
  • Sweity S, Sutton C, Downe S, Balaam MC, McElvenny DM.  Challenges to and facilitators of occupational epidemiology research in the UK.  Health Policy 2020, 124(7): 772-80.
  • Onwudike M, Abbas K, Thompson P, McElvenny DM. Role of Compression After Radiofrequency Ablation of Varicose Veins: A Randomised Controlled Trial. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2020.
  • Mueller W, Cowie H, Horwell CJ, Baxter PJ, McElvenny D, Booth M, et al. Standardized epidemiological protocols for populations affected by volcanic eruptions. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2020;98(5):362-4.
  • IARC Monographs Vol 127 Group. Carcinogenicity of some aromatic amines and related compounds. The Lancet Oncology. 2020.
  • Hidajat M, McElvenny DM, Ritchie P, Darnton A, Mueller W, Agius RM, et al. Lifetime cumulative exposure to rubber dust, fumes and N-nitrosamines and non-cancer mortality: a 49-year follow-up of UK rubber factory workers. Occup Environ Med. 2020.
  • Gallo V, Motley K, Kemp S, MIan S, Patel T, James L, et al. Concussion and long-term cognitive impairment among professional or elite sport-persons: A systematic review. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 2020; 91(5): 455-68.
  • Stewart W, Allinson K, Al-Sarraj S, Bachmeier C, Barlow K, Belli A, et al. Primum non nocere: a call for balance when reporting on CTE. Lancet Neurol. 2019;18(3):231-3.
  • Steenland K, Barry V, Anttila A, Sallmen M, Mueller W, Ritchie P, et al. Cancer incidence among workers with blood lead measurements in two countries. Occup Environ Med. 2019;76(9):603-10.