This award recognizes exceptional dedication and work in research aimed to improve knowledge regarding preventing sudden death in sport.
R. Dawn Comstock, PhD
Professor, Colorado School of Public Health
University of Colorado
Dr. Comstock, a national leader in sports injury surveillance, epidemiology, and prevention, is the founding Research Director of the National High School Sports Injury Surveillance System, High School RIO. Since establishing High School RIO in 2005, Dr. Comstock has provided national level surveillance data to sports governing bodies, NGO’s, and federal agencies to enable those working to improve the health and safety of young athletes with the ability to have evidence-based discussions and to make data-driven decisions. Dr. Comstock has also shared her data with clinicians, researches, and students from numerous institutions.
Dr. Comstock’s research focus is the epidemiology of injury among athletes as she believes that to combat the epidemic of obesity in our country children must be encouraged to get up off the couch and participate in physically active sports, recreation, and leisure activities. However, a certain endemic level of injury can be expected in any physical activity. Dr. Comstock believes the challenge is to monitor injury trends through surveillance; to investigate the etiology of preventable injuries; to develop, implement, and evaluate protective interventions; and to responsibly report epidemiologic findings of injury research while promoting a physically active lifestyle for children and adolescents.
After receiving a Ph.D. in Public Health Epidemiology from the University of California San Diego/San Diego State University Dr. Comstock served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer assigned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a liaison to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service. Before joining the Colorado School of Public Health, Dr. Comstock was a faculty member at Ohio State University and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Comstock has published over 120 papers in peer-reviewed medical and public health journals including JAMA Pediatrics, Pediatrics, American Journal of Sports Medicine, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Athletic Training, Injury Prevention, Journal of Primary Prevention, and Brain Injury.
Frederick O. Mueller, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of Exercise and Sport Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Frederick O. Mueller is a 1961 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and after years of teaching and coaching football at the high school and college levels he completed his Ph.D. in 1970. He was appointed an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at UNC-CH and rose through the professorial ranks to full professor and eventually Departmental Chair. After 40 years he retired in 2010 as Professor Emeritus.
During his time at UNC-CH his research was involved with the American Football Coaches Association as Chair of the Annual Study of Football Fatalities. This research reduced the number of football fatalities from a high of 36 in 1968 to zero in 1990. He also became Director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at this time and conducted both studies for 35 years. Research grants were received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (one of the first grants awarded for sport injury research), American Football Coaches Association (continued for 35 years), USA Baseball, National Collegiate Athletic Association, The Yawkey Foundation, and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Dr. Mueller received a number of Honors and Awards, but he is most proud of the reduction of fatalities and catastrophic injuries in both high school and college sports.
Professor and Department Chair, Kinesiology
University of New Hampshire
Erik E Swartz PhD, ATC, FNATA, Professor and Chair, Department of Kinesiology at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Swartz received his PhD in Applied Biomechanics at the University of Toledo. Dr. Swartz’ primary research interest focuses on the prevention and care of head and neck injuries in football. Dr. Swartz has received grants from The NATA Foundation, NOCSAE, NFL Charities, and was recently a named a winner of the NineSigma Head Health Challenge II. He has been published in journals such as The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, Spine, and The American Journal of Sports Medicine. He serves on the NFL Head Neck and Spine Committee’s Subcommittee on Safety Equipment and on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Athletic Training and Athletic Training and Sports Health Care Journal. Dr. Swartz served as chair of the NATA Position Statement on the Acute Management of the Cervical Spine Injured Athlete. In 2011 he was honored with a Fellows designation in the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and in 2015 received the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, also from the NATA. He and his wife Renee have two children, Evry and Caleb.
Professor, University of Washington
Team Physician, Seattle Seahawks and University of Washington
Jonathan Drezner is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of the Center for Sports Cardiology at the University of Washington. He serves as team physician for the University of Washington Huskies and the Seattle Seahawks, and is past-President of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (2012-13). He is board certified in Family Medicine and has a Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine. He attended Brown University where he received an undergraduate degree in biomedical ethics and also played varsity basketball. He received his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine in 1996 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society. He completed his residency at Tacoma Family Medicine in 1999 where he was Chief Resident and also received the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Resident Teacher Award. He completed a fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine and a fellowship in Faculty Development at the University of Washington. He has twice been honored with the Faculty Teaching Award from the University of Washington Family Practice Residency Program (2001, 2006).
Dr. Drezner is the founder and director of the National Registry for AED Use in Sports, and was co-chair of the 2007 Inter-Association Task Force recommendations on emergency planning for sudden cardiac arrest in sport. The AED registry continues to be a cornerstone for monitoring the incidence and outcomes of acute cardiac events in sport and is now utilized in collaboration with the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.
Dr. Drezner has an active role as Senior Associate Editor for the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) with a focus onincreasing sports cardiology education within the sports and exercise medicine community. He has been guest editor of two special theme issues in sports cardiology: 1) a 2008 issue co-sponsored by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on “Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes,” and 2) a 2012 issue co-sponsored by Aspetar on “Advances in Sports Cardiology.”
Dr. Drezner served on the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute (NHLBI) advisory committee on screening for SCD in the young. He also had the great honor of highlighting his scientific contributions as the opening keynote lecture on SCD prevention at the 2011 IOC World Conference on the Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport.
In 2012, Dr. Drezner was chair of an international initiative to develop ECG interpretation standards and an online training course for ECG interpretation in athletes. The consensus guidelines (“Seattle criteria”) are aimed to assist physicians distinguish physiologic ECG adaptations in athletes from ECG abnormalities suggestive of a pathologic cardiac disorder. The training course provides a comprehensive review of athlete’s heart, disorders associated with sudden cardiac death, and the evaluation of ECG abnormalities. Co-sponsored by FIFA, this project has strengthened a growing consultative role for Dr. Drezner with FIFA and led to the publication of a FIFA-wide emergency planning and cardiac arrest management guideline.
Dr. Drezner believes sports medicine physicians have a unique role in the health and safety of athletes, and together with cardiology specialists can provide the full spectrum of cardiovascular care for athletes. As Director of the Center for Sports Cardiology, he hopes to expand the clinical services available to young athletes while advancing research and education related to sports cardiology.
Kevin Guskiewicz, Ph.D., ATC, FACSM, FNATA
Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel-Hill, NC
Kenan Distinguished Professor, Chair of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science
Founding Director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center
Research Director of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes
Renowned researcher and athletic trainer, Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz has been a leader in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sport-related concussions. Dr. Guskiewicz has played an important role in raising awareness about the prevalence and dangers of sport-related brain injuries. He has investigated the effect of sport-related concussions on balance and neuropsychological function, and the long-term neurological issues related to playing sports. He was among the first to identify the long-term effects of multiple concussions, including cognitive impairment and depression later in life. Dr. Guskiewicz’s current research focuses on the cumulative effects of repetitive, sub-threshold brain impacts. While engaging clinicians, coaches, parents, and athletes in recognizing the immediate and long-term effects of concussions, Dr. Guskiewicz is contributing significantly to state and federal policy discussions concerning development of more stringent return-to-play guidelines and headgear investigations that will improve the safety of athletes of all ages.
Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz has been the recipient of 30 funded research grants, and has published over 100 journal articles and six textbook chapters related to concussion in sports. He was awarded Fellowship in the American College of Sports Medicine in 2003, the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education in 2006, and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association in 2008. In 2010 he was named to NCAA’s Concussion Committee, the NFLPA’s Mackey-White Committee, and the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine Committee. In 2011 he was named a MacArthur Fellow from the MacArthur Foundation. The MacArthur Fellows Program (nicknamed the Genus Grant) typically awards around 20-40 unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who “have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The foundation states that, “Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential.” This award is considered one of the most significant awards a person of any field can be granted.
COL Francis O’Connor, MD, MPH
Professor, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD
Medical Director, Consortium on Health and Military Performance
Dr. Francis G. O’Connor has been a leader in sports medicine education and research for the military for more than 20 years. Dr. O’Connor was instrumental in helping develop new U.S. Army guidelines for return to duty following exertional heat stroke. Dr. O’Connor has also been extremely involved with U.S. military doctrine dealing with the prevention, recognition, and treatment of exertional heat stroke, sickle cell trait related conditions, and cardiovascular issues. Dr. O’Connor has authored more than 50 articles in scientific journals and numerous book chapters, technical reports and health promotion resources for the military. In addition, Dr. O’Connor is the editor of four texts on sports medicine including, the Textbook of Running Medicine and Sports Medicine for the Primary care Physician 3rd Edition.
Dr. O’Connor is one of the top physicians in the world as it relates to preventing sudden death during sport and physical activity and has contributed a great deal to the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Athletic Trainers Association. A colonel in the United States Army, Dr. O’Connor is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.