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NFL names Sills as league’s first-ever chief medical officer

Mar. 30, 2017, 9:22 AM

Vanderbilt’s Allen Sills, M.D., has been chosen by the National Football League (NFL) to be its chief medical officer, a newly created position.

Allen Sills, M.D.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced his selection earlier this week.

“There is no higher priority for the NFL than player health and safety, and we continually seek to raise our standards and then surpass them,” Goodell said. “We sought a highly credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician researcher, and Dr. Sills’ extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position.”

Sills is the founder and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center, professor of Neurological Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, director of the Neurosurgery Community Practice and a neuro-oncologist with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

“I am humbled and excited to have the opportunity to serve as the first-ever chief medical officer for the National Football League,” Sills said. “I especially want to thank all my colleagues at the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center and in neurosurgery and sports medicine at Vanderbilt. Our combined clinical and research efforts in the care of athletes have attracted national attention and my selection is a result of the great work of our entire team.”

The NFL conducted an international search and consulted with the NFL Players Association in its selection process. Sills, who will be based in New York, is expected to start working for the NFL in May, but he will continue to be active at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“I’m happy to report that I won’t be leaving Vanderbilt completely but will continue to have some practice here based around care of athletes with neurosurgical problems,” Sills said. “And I’m also thrilled that our community neurosurgery practices in Williamson and Wilson counties will remain open and vibrant as we involve even more of our staff in those locations that I have served.”

Sills has extensive experience treating athletes from teams in various sports, including the Memphis Grizzlies (National Basketball Association) and the Nashville Predators (National Hockey League). He has worked on the NFL sidelines as an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant and served as a consultant for the U.S. Equestrian Foundation. He has also served all the athletic teams for Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and Mississippi State University.

“Allen Sills is an exceptional leader who will bring the perspective of a practicing neurosurgeon to this important position,” said Reid Thompson, M.D., William F. Meacham Professor of Neurological Surgery and chair of the department.

“He is an avid athlete and gifted surgeon with a passion for the care of elite athletes. With a combination of energy, vision and absolute integrity, he is an inspired choice to become the first chief medical officer of the NFL.”

Sills, 52, joined Vanderbilt in 2009. He has published more than 150 scientific articles and presentations, including more than 40 in the last five years on sports concussion.

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