About the Massey TBI Grand Challenge

The Massey Foundation TBI Grand Challenge supports high-impact proposals by funding milestone-driven research over a 12-month timeframe.

The programs seeks to fund the development of diagnostic, device, therapeutic, or health IT solutions that address the initial 'golden hours' of care after severe traumatic brain injury (generally the first 48 hours). Treatment administered during this critical timeframe can determine patient survival and have a significant effect on long-term function and disability.

Joyce and Don Massey


Don and Joyce Massey moved to Michigan in the 1950s, lured by stories of great opportunities in the Motor City. In the mid-1960s, Don opened his first Cadillac dealership—long a dream of his. He lived by his slogan 'The Caring, Servicing, Selling Dealer' which is what ultimately led to his success in opening and acquiring a total of 20 Cadillac dealerships in Michigan and around the country.

In 1983, the family was dealt a terrible blow when Joyce rolled her car and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). When she regained consciousness after two weeks in a coma at the University of Michigan Hospital, it became obvious that the trauma to her brain had been devastating. After another month in intensive care, the family was told there were few treatment options available—research into TBI was in its infancy.

Through their gift to the University of Michigan, the Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation hope to spare other families from what they endured.


Grand Challenge funding is awarded to teams moving their projects along the research spectrum toward translational impact. The goal is to accelerate impact at the bedside; therefore basic discovery phase projects will not be funded.

Integrative collaboration across disciplines is encouraged; therefore proposals submitted by co-PIs from across disciplines are given first consideration for funding.

All funded projects are assigned project mentors to assist in executing their milestone-driven research plans. Projects involving potential product development also receive specialized commercialization mentorship, utilizing the ‘lean business model’ tools and techniques.


Through a rigorous proposal review and selection process, five teams were awarded funding based on their potential to impact the way TBI is diagnosed, monitored and/or treated during the initial "golden hours" of care.

Following the initial two-page proposal submission, the teams were required to submit detailed 10-page proposals and then pitch their idea to an expert panel. The panel comprised of Department of Defense neurotrauma leaders, TBI clinical experts, and innovation and commercialization experts.

All final funding decisions were made by the Massey Oversight Committee.