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August 10, 2015

XROMM puts biomechanics on the fast track

New biomechanics visualization technology can be shared among scientists in open source database

The protective shells that have helped keep turtles around for millions of years have also kept scientists guessing about just what’s going on inside.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), biologist Elizabeth Brainerd and her team at Brown University have developed X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology, or XROMM, a new technology that combines CAT scan and X-ray technology for visualizing bones and joints in motion, in both animals and humans. Brainerd incorporates MAYA, the same animation software used to create high-end Hollywood special effects, to layer the XROMM images together to create 3-D visualizations.

XROMM has already transformed studies of vertebrate animal motion. In fact, the technology has proved such a useful tool that other labs are ramping up their own XROMM capability, and Brainerd is designing better software to meet the new demand. Her team is also putting together an open source database so researchers can quickly and easily share their visualizations.

Brainerd’s project will substantially enhance the cyberinfrastructure for comparative biomechanics research and increase U.S. economic competitiveness through technology development and advanced training of the scientific workforce.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1262156, Collaborative Research: Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI) Development: Integrated X-Ray Motion Analysis Software and Video Data Management for the Comparative Biomechanics Community.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Marsha Walton, Science Nation Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.