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CChIPS Grateful for a Decade of Innovation in Child Safety
In the 10 years that the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) has been on the road to improving child safety, the unique collaboration between industry members, academia, and government has reached many milestones, which are being celebrated with a special anniversary report and timeline.
Flaura Winston, MD, PhD, CChIPS founder and director, wrote a blog post that took a look at how far CChIPS has come over the past decade and the program’s future path to child injury prevention. She recalled a pivotal moment – Jan. 8, 2003—that paved the way for the creation of CChIPS. On that date, Dr. Winston and her CChIPS co-director Kristy Arbogast, PhD met with Alexander Schwarzkopf at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) Directors Meeting.
“A force of nature, Alex was the mastermind behind the very successful NSF I/UCRC program which succeeded in ushering in a new era of government-industry-academia partnership that features high-quality, industrially relevant fundamental research with direct transfer of needed scientific foundation to foster innovation,” Dr. Winston wrote.
Dr. Schwarzkopf believed in CChIPS’ vision to bring competitors, manufacturers, advocates, policymakers, and scientists around the same table to find ways to make children and young adults safer. Since it launched in 2005 with NSF funding, CChIPS has facilitated more than 100 projects to date that are informing advances in product design and policy for child occupant protection, biomechanics, and young driver safety.
“The high rates of traffic injury and mortality among children have created a public health crisis that requires immediate research solutions,” said Dr. Winston, who also serves as the scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is a professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. T
he CChIPS research team, which includes investigators at CHOP and The Ohio State University, has responded to these real-world challenges by developing a research portfolio in conjunction with an Industry Advisory Board (IAB). Representatives from IAB member companies include auto manufacturers, child restraint manufacturers, an anthropomorphic test device (ATD) manufacturer, insurance companies, advocacy organizations, and others.
For example, since its inception, CChIPS has been committed to improving pediatric ATDs, or crash test dummies. To be an effective tool, pediatric ATDs must accurately mimic how child occupants move and respond to the forces of a vehicle crash. The research being conducted through CChIPS is delivering the fundamental data needed to improve the design of pediatric ATDs and to develop innovative restraint products to make vehicles safer for children in the future.
In 2006, CChIPS researchers, led by Dr. Arbogast, co-scientific director and director of Engineering for CIRP, with founding CChIPS IAB member TK Holdings Inc. (Takata Corp.), Rowan University, and University of Virginia researchers developed a low-speed human volunteer sled to mimic the crash experienced by children and adults when they ride an amusement park bumper car. This allowed CChIPS to collect the only known data on the kinematics and kinetics of restrained 6- to 14-year-old pediatric human volunteers in low speed impacts. The crash sled has been used in several CChIPS studies to compare child and adult volunteers’ heads, necks, and spines during a bumper car’s safe crash, as well as the same body regions on pediatric ATDs.
The CChIPS IAB has expanded from six founding members in 2005 (all remain active) to 22 members in 2015. By pooling its annual $50,000 membership fees for the 2014-2015 project year, the IAB leveraged those member investments into a sizeable $850,000 fund to support the center’s mission.
CChIPS also invests in the next generation of scientists and engineers. Every CChIPS research project includes at least one student, which demonstrates the program’s commitment to creating a diverse, internationally competitive, and globally engaged science and engineering workforce focused on injury prevention.
While traffic safety will continue to be a primary focus of the CChIPS research portfolio, the Center is looking forward to pursuing other safety topics that affect children, including bicycle and pedestrian safety, aviation safety, sports injury prevention, and trauma care and treatment.
“We will continue to utilize the model established during our first decade — conducting rigorous, impactful research that’s responsive to what’s happening in the real world, all with a goal to save children’s lives,” Dr. Winston said.