Mark Lovell, the neuropsychologist who co-founded and chairs the Pittsburgh software company ImPACT Applications, Inc., appears to have lost his affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. There has been no formal announcement of this, so far as I can tell, and the back story is intriguing.
The grapevine at last week’s National Academy of Neuropsychology conference in Marco Island, Florida, buzzed about this impending development. This morning I solicited comment from Lovell and UPMC spokesperson Susan Manko. (They have never responded to me, but I will of course publish any response I might receive to this inquiry.)
I then noticed that Lovell’s name does not appear on the UPMC Media Relations web page about the center’s Sports Medicine Concussion Program. See http://www.upmc.com/mediarelations/factsheets/pages/concussionsportsmedbg.aspx. However, the chronological listing of UPMC news releases does not include an announcement of Lovell’s departure.
Lovell’s move would be very unusual. As in most fields where medical research and industry intersect, those on the industry side ordinarily fight hard to retain their academic affiliations, if only for image purposes. If UPMC has pushed Lovell out, the explanation may be that the university wants to distance itself from liability issues such as those raised in the several recent lawsuits by retired players against the National Football League for covering up evidence of long-term brain damage from sports concussions.
Lovell developed the ImPACT concussion management software over the course of more than a decade of collaboration with UPMC colleagues – most notably, Dr. Joseph Maroon, team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers and medical director of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Numerous ethical issues hover over UPMC’s association with and promotion of ImPACT. Among them: Has UPMC publicly disclosed that Lovell (formerly of UPMC) and Maroon and Michael Collins (still current ImPACT company board members) have commercial interests in UPMC-supported traumatic brain injury research? I currently have a Freedom of Information Act request pending to the National Institutes of Health for copies of Lovell and UPMC’s successful grants for federal funding for their research. According to NIH, the grant recipient controls release of whether the application was accompanied by a conflict-of-interest disclosure, as well as of the content of such a disclosure. UPMC has not responded to Concussion Inc.’s repeated queries regarding this issue.
UPMC still lists Lovell among “Cinical and Research Experts” on Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury. I will attempt to find out exactly when Lovell’s name was removed from the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program web page.
The second ebook short from Concussion Inc., UPMC: Concussion Scandal Ground Zero, will be published shortly.