Cleveland is the home of current UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. While part of his job as a mixed martial arts fighter is to knock out his opponents, scientists here want to know the impact of those punches on the brain.
Tony DiPiero is a scientific researcher working on stem cell therapies at one of Cleveland's premier biotech businesses.
But when he's not in the lab, you can find him on the mat. DiPiero is a professional MMA fighter.
He has no idea how many hits to the head he's taken in a seven year career, but his mind is smart enough to know that there's definitely damage potential.
"I got hit pretty hard, and I didn't come to until after the fight, so that was a little scary," DePiero said.
That's why he enrolled himself in Cleveland Clinic's Brain study for Boxers and MMA fighters.
"I think is a landmark study for understanding brain health and the impact of different head injuries," said Dr. Jay Alberts, director of Cleveland Clinic's Concussion Center.
Research they hope can one day be used to help the general public.
"To understand what are the specific effects of these head impacts and when has someone maybe had enough," Dr. Alberts said.
The research could point to earlier warning signs of neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, ALS and Alzheimer's. Perhaps, the research could even speed up drug research.
"If they notice something's changing, I have good people to tell me what to do," DePiero said.
The fighter submits to an MRI, blood testing and cognitive and motor testing using technology developed at Cleveland Clinic. With more than two dozen fights under his belt, Tony's time in the ring has left a number of scars.
"The wounds heal, the injuries will go away they may leave scars but I'm more concerned about what's going on inside with my brain and long term health," DiPiero said.