University Of Michigan launches sport science research program

The ESSI is funded by the university and the athletic department, and will focus on a wide range of athletic research, including apparel and technology.
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Building off research from more than 100 faculty members and students, the University of Michigan recently launched the Exercise and Sport Science Initiative, a program designed to maximize physical performance for athletes everywhere.

The research stems from a variety of disciplines including medicine, kinesiology, psychology, social science, nutrition, bioengineering and data science.

The University of Michigan Office of Research along with Michigan Athletics and the Office of the Provost have provided an initial $3.5 million of seed funding to support ESSI’s efforts to expand research on sport science. 

“With developments in areas ranging from improved helmet designs to the analysis of sports data, science and technology are opening up a host of new opportunities to transform sports and exercise,” S. Jack Hu, vice president for research, said in a statement. “With the help of industry partners, we seek not only to explore the science underlying new advances, but also to translate new ideas and insights into practice on our campus and beyond.”

Research will initially focus on three key areas:

• Sports performance optimization for individuals and teams through strength training, conditioning, nutrition and understanding the role of physical activity in improved physical and mental performance.

• Data science and analytics, which include sport and exercise apps, analytics and other data around development, marketing and entrepreneurship.

• Other sport technologies like inertial measurement units, smart apparel and equipment design.

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“This is a great opportunity for our coaches, trainers, and student athletes to work with faculty and industry partners to probe new approaches to optimizing both individual and team performance,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement.

The co-directors of ESSI are Ellen Arruda (professor of mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering) and Ron Zernicke (professor of orthopaedic surgery, kinesiology and biomedical engineering).

“We have a great deal of interest, expertise and experience across campus in the challenges of optimizing physical performance,” Arruda said in a statement. “With the launch of this program, we will be able to foster more productive cross-disciplinary relationships to help spur further progress.”

Added Zerni>, at an invitation-only symposium two weeks ago, Zernicke said that more than 30 companies attended and showed interest in working with ESSI on additional research and future products, including Nike, Gatorade and adidas.