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The Applied Biomechanics Lab, along with an investigative team spanning principal investigators in the UNC College of Arts & Sciences, UNC School of Medicine, and NC State College of Engineering has received a $772k National Science Foundation Grant to revolutionize our region’s scientific and technological infrastructure for the quantitative measurement of human movement. With additional financial support from the Dean’s offices in the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Medicine, the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Exercise and Sport Science, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the grant will support not only the acquisition of a state-of-the-art high-speed biplane fluoroscopy system, but also technical support staffing, creation of a Collaborative Fluoroscopy Research Core, support for instructional innovation in the classroom, and development of new community outreach programs.

This was a plan that started in concept nearly three years ago and was a true team effort, especially the Principal Investigative team: Dr. Jason Franz (UNC/NC State BME), Dr. Brian Pietrosimone (UNC EXSS), Dr. Troy Blackburn (UNC EXSS), Dr. Kate Saul (NC State MAE), and Dr. Helen Huang (UNC/NC State BME). The proposal also received enthusiastic support from a broader network of scientists and engineers spanning UNC Greensboro, High Point University, NC A&T, and Elon University. This acquisition is the first such instrument available to any of the students, faculty, and fellows at the 17 public UNC system campuses, and its availability has the potential to catalyze lasting new disciplinary, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research and educational impact across our region.

High-speed biplane fluoroscopy systems provide continuous multi-dimensional cine x-ray images at up to 1000 samples/s for the purpose of directly quantifying three-dimensional bone positions, orientations, and articulating surface mechanics that are impossible to capture with even the most sophisticated of comparable technologies (e.g., MRI). The highly competitive award will allow a broad network for researchers, as well as the diverse student bodies they serve, to measure with unparalleled resolution the precise complexities of bone motion critical to overcoming the pivotal scientific and technological challenges across many disciplines, including: (1) understanding how musculoskeletal mechanics and function are achieved and maintained over the mammalian lifespan, (2) developing mechanistic links between movement biomechanics and underlying biology, (3) identifying technological opportunities for surgical innovation, (4) advancing ergonomics and occupational science toward for a strong and vibrant workforce, (5) developing more sophisticated bioengineered materials and tissues, and (6) introducing the next generation of rehabilitation robotics.

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