Whether brain injuries related to concussions and contact sports can or cannot lead to brain degeneration later on down the road is still being investigated, but the richest NFL owner — Paul Allen, of the Seattle Seahawks — has made a big step in furthering research in the area.

During a game last year, Allen asked to speak with a University of Washington neurosurgeon, Dr. Rich Ellenbogen, who volunteers as a neurological specialist for the Hawks and the National Football League (NFL). “I’d never met him before,” Dr. Ellenbogen told the Seattle Times after being told “the big boss” wanted to speak with him. But their conversation led to a plan to spearhead research into whether football-related blows to the head could cause dementia, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), later on in life.

“[Allen] recognized the importance of this, and how many outstanding questions there are,” Kathy Richmond, science officer for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, told the Seattle Times. “He’s interested in getting to those answers, no matter what they are.” Allen is the only NFL owner with his own brain research lab, the Allen Institute, which is a nonprofit started in 2003 that focuses on brain health. He will partner with Group Health for their study, which will involve a collection of over 500 brains that have been gathered in the past 25 years — the largest brain bank in the world. The study will occur over two years and will cost $2.4 million, analyzing the brains at a structural, cellular, and molecular level.

“If I get in a car accident in my 20s, does that mean I’m going to get dementia in my 70s?” Dr. Ellenbogen told the Seattle Times. “Right now, we don’t know.” Research on the long-term effects of concussions and brain injuries is preliminary, but enough has been done for former football players to sue the NFL for $750 million earlier this year, due to its inability to provide its athletes with information about degenerative brain diseases. Several athletes, plagued with memory loss, depression, and declining cognitive ability caused presumably by injury-related CTE, have committed suicide. Though it’s still not certain, researchers have found a link between head trauma — the kind that occurs in contact sports such as football — and the development of Alzheimer’s-causing plaques, or amyloid deposits, in the brain later on.

Other research into brain injury is being led by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to which the NFL has donated $30 million.