Two University of Montana professors have won a $300,000 grant to study ways to help diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries in athletics and the military.

The grant from the National Football League and General Electric was one of 16 projects in the Head Health Challenge that received awards.

UM Research Assistant Professors Sarj Patel and Tom Rau are looking at the way the brain reacts following Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). So far, they've seen how levels of proteins and ribonucleic acids change in TBI cases. They are attempting to identify specific biomarkers to "see if we can detect these molecules and ultimately determine how long it might take for them to return to play or service," Patel said in a University of Montana news release.

He said that an injury in one part of the brain can cause damage throughout the entire brain and proteins could play a part in that.

Future work will include blood samples from emergency rooms of people who have suffered TBI, along with possible inclusion of UM athletes.

The Head Health Challenge aims to develop new imaging technology to improve therapy for those with mild traumatic brain injury.