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Toyota Partners With Wake Forest School of Medicine on Safety Research

September 13, 2011

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Wake Forest School of Medicine is one of six leading research institutions across the country chosen by Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) to enhance the development, testing and implementation of new automotive safety innovations.

Toyota’s CSRC announced the partnerships Sept. 13 at the 2011 Toyota Safety Technology Seminar at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Mich. The new projects will research vehicle safety subjects ranging from driver education and collision mitigation to accident reconstruction and enhanced crash data analysis. These initiatives build upon the CSRC’s initial focus of reducing the risk of driver distraction and better protecting the most vulnerable traffic populations, including children, teens, seniors and pedestrians.

"Wake Forest School of Medicine is proud to partner with Toyota to continue working on these important safety innovations for the auto industry," said Edward Abraham, M.D., dean of the medical school. “Our previous collaboration with Toyota provided the groundwork for us to be included in the continuation of this important research that will have real-life benefits in saving lives and preventing or reducing crash injuries."

The Wake Forest School of Medicine research program is two-fold and will work through its Center for Injury Biomechanics (CIB), which investigates injury mechanisms following trauma to develop a greater understanding of human tolerance to injury. The CIB has previously worked with the CSRC’s Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS) technology to develop ways to reduce trauma from head injuries.

The CIB uses a multidisciplinary approach to solving real-world biomechanics problems, combining the biomedical expertise at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center with Virginia Tech’s college of engineering. Joel Stitzel Jr., Ph.D., a professor of medical engineering at Wake Forest, is the principal investigator for both of the research programs and is working with a cross-disciplinary team of experts from public health sciences and general surgery.

The first aspect of the new research agreement is a one-year partnership that will focus on advanced automatic crash notification. Wake Forest will work to develop vehicle computer systems that not only notify first responders in the event of a collision, but also predict the likelihood and severity of occupant and driver injuries.

The second research aspect involves Toyota’s THUMS technology and will focus on simulation of real-world collision events. This four-and-a-half-year project will combine collision reconstruction data with “finite element modeling” to better understand how to reduce injuries caused by vehicle collisions. The study will compare information about actual collisions with data from THUMS technology, allowing researchers to pinpoint which changes to vehicle design could have prevented the actual injuries suffered by vehicle occupants. 

The projects announced Sept. 13 bring the total number of ongoing research programs to 13. In addition to Wake Forest School of Medicine, the new CSRC collaborative safety technology research partners include: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab, Cambridge, Mass.; The Transportation Active Safety Institute, Indiana University/Purdue University (TASI), Indianapolis, Ind.; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT), Blacksburg, Va.; Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS), Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich. 

The CSRC initiative, funded by a $50 million, five-year investment by Toyota, plans to announce additional partners and programs over the next year.

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