A group of local students had the chance to hear from the woman who wrote the book which led to a major box office hit “Concussion.”
Jeanne Marie Laskas talked with students at the Linsly School on Tuesday about her work as a writer and the research that went into the book and movie.
It started as magazine article back in 2009 when Laskas was doing a story on concussions among football players. Her work focused on the research of Dr. Bennett Omalu, a pathologist who discovered a link between concussions and brain disease. That was following an autopsy he performed on Pittsburgh Steeler, Hall of Fame Center Mike Webster. According to the story, Dr. Omalu had to fight efforts by the NFL to suppress his research
“It surprised me how much science was in the medical literature that was not in the popular literature. That transition, the message was not getting out,” said Laskas.
Laskas was able to expand the article into a book which then led to a major film starring Will Smith.
“The movie really stays true the project and it is historically accurate in that way,” said Laskas.
Laskas is the Director of the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing. Today she spoke to students about her experiences as an author and writing as a career.
“I learned a lot of new things, not just about the book but a lot about life including what you have to do to be an author,” said 8th grader, Nicholas White.
“I’ve never met an author before. I’ve never met someone that has experienced that before come and talk to me about it so it was amazing to find out,” said 8th grader, Arella Kluvitse.
Many of the students say Laskas work helped raise awareness about the severity of concussions.
“You might see an article every once in a while. You might see something in a magazine but now that’s it is in a movie about it and the commercials, people might actually go see it and start to understand more about the dangers,” said 8th grader, Ethan McDermott.
Laskas has authored seven books and has written several award winning articles for national and newspapers including the New York Times and the Smithsonian.