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The Naval Medical Research Unit Dayton (NAMRU-Dayton), The Ohio State University, Wright State University (WSU), University of Dayton (UD), University of Cincinnati (UC), SpineDynX, and Bertec conducted novel research on multi-disciplinary effects of motion sickness on military health, risk, performance, and operations. The research project, called “Motion Sickness Interactions with Spine Disorders (MOSSD),” was conducted from 2016 to 2019 under the Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) –a program funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and managed by Parallax Advanced Research and the Ohio State University.  

OFRN stimulates Ohio’s innovation economy by building vibrant, statewide university-industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories and result in leading-edge technologies that drive job growth in Ohio.  OFRN stimulates Ohio’s innovation economy by building vibrant, statewide university-industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories and result in leading-edge technologies that drive job growth in Ohio.  

MOSSD is based on the study of spine disorders and motion sickness conducted by The Ohio State University Spine Research Institute, and it uses Ohio State’s novel Clinical Lumbar Motion Monitor (CLMM) technology, which evaluates the effects of motion sickness on human spines. The research results provide an objective measure for use in clinical environments to help determine if people can return to duty or if they require additional treatments.  

The partnership impacts: Ohio State’s Spine Research Institute’s collaboration with NAMRU-Dayton 

NAMRU-Dayton and Ohio State’s Spine Research Institute share a common interest: the former specializes in aerospace medical and environmental health effects research and is particularly interested in neck and back pain and motion sickness seen in naval aviators, and the latter specializes in the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of spine and other musculoskeletal disorders. The OFRN recognized this common interest and connected the two entities via its collaboration and team matchmaking capability, which involves evaluating the OFRN network to identify collaboration opportunities between Ohio’s federal laboratories, small businesses, and academic institutions to provide solutions for innovation gaps within Ohio’s federal laboratories.  

According to Dr. Bill Marras, director of the Spine Research Institute and principal investigator on MOSSD, “the most beneficial aspect of the project is the relationships it facilitated with Dr. Rick Arnold, NAMRU-Dayton aeromedical research director, and NAMRU-Dayton Lt. Cmdr. Mike Tapia and Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Huber. The NAMRU-Dayton team visited the Spine Research Institute and greatly appreciated the technology and the research. The interest from and connections with the NAMRU-Dayton team opened many doors for the Ohio State team.”  

When the MOSSD project began in 2016, NAMRU-Dayton entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Ohio State. This allowed NAMRU-Dayton to operate equipment to support Ohio State’s research protocol, which led to the agency establishing its aeromedical research program.  

“We developed a capability out of this partnership,” said Dr. Arnold. “Now, we have a very good and robust biomechanics lab, which came from the projects we worked on with Ohio State after completing MOSSD. We also hired one of the MOSSD Ph.D. students from the Ohio State lab, and since then, we’ve grown our program to be the largest funded with the largest projects. The partnerships that started through OFRN’s Round 2 funding opportunity generated follow-on research work, and the effects are still rippling, and we plan to continue growing our program.”  

Today, the NAMRU-Dayton team comprises ten federal employees based in Ohio. 

After the initial research for MOSSD ended in 2019, the aeromedical research group at NAMRU-Dayton continued its collaboration with Ohio State on three additional projects. About half a million dollars from those projects were earned and reinvested in continued research conducted at the university. According to Dr. Marras, the Spine Research Institute is currently working on eight funded research projects in different aspects of spine health, biomechanics, and air-crew neck and back pain that stemmed from the initial MOSSD project. Dr. Marras’ team earned approximately $15 million in funding from the National Institutes for Health, National Science Foundation, and Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for research into wearable technologies. The Spine Research Institute won $3 million in DoD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Technology Transfer (STTR)  programs.   

“This goes back to the OFRN, which played an important role in our team’s initial success by matching us with people who knew the process of military funding. That connection led us to success with several funding opportunities in the field of wearable technologies and created a domino effect of doors opening for us, one after the other,” said Dr. Marras. 

The OFRN’s approach has connected Ohio-wide research talent and assets to one other and has resulted in the transition of various novel technological solutions to Ohio companies. OFRN has helped Ohio universities and small businesses collaborate on joint proposals totaling over $350 million provided by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Research Laboratory, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Army Research Office, NASA, and the Office of Naval Research. In addition to creating tech solutions and jobs in Ohio, these projects bring new, critical research dollars to Ohio to support undergraduate and graduate student education and training, preparing Ohio’s workforce for the future. 

If you are an academic or industry innovator with promising ideas or intellectual property you'd like to commercialize, are interested in collaborating with the OFRN network on research projects, or need assistance and/or academic or industry partners in pursuit of federal funding opportunities, OFRN wants to hear from you! Learn more about OFRN’s R&D projects at Ohio Federal Research Network R&D Projects | Ohio Federal Research Network and reach out to the program leadership here


About Parallax Advanced Research 

Parallax is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that tackles global challenges by accelerating innovation and developing technology and solutions through strategic partnerships with government, industry, and academia across Ohio and the Nation. Together with academia, Parallax accelerates innovation that leads to breakthroughs. Together with the government, Parallax tackles critical global challenges and delivers new solutions. Together with the industry, Parallax develops groundbreaking ideas and speeds them to market. 

About OFRN 

The OFRN has the mission to stimulate Ohio’s innovation economy by building statewide university-industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories, resulting in the creation of technologies that drive job growth for the State of Ohio. The OFRN is a program managed by Parallax Advanced Research in collaboration with the Ohio State University and is funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education.