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Stefan Duma named editor-in-chief of biomedical engineering journal

October 27, 2017

Stefan Duma with sparklers

Stefan Duma sparklers
Stefan Duma is the Harry Wyatt Professor of Engineering and interim director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. His internationally recognized research on head and eye injuries has covered everything from concussion prevention in football to eye damage from fireworks.

Stefan Duma, the Harry Wyatt Professor of Engineering, has been named editor-in-chief of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, the flagship journal of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

The journal, which publishes original articles in bioengineering and biomedical engineering, highlights interdisciplinary, integrated approaches to biological problems.  

“I’m honored to play a role in advancing scholarship in this field,” said Duma, who is also the interim director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. “Biomedical engineering has remarkable potential to affect everyone’s quality of life — we’re seeing solutions to everything from preventing injury to treating cancer to helping people live independently longer, and a high-impact journal like ABME gets that transformative research out into the academic community and to the public.”

The journal’s papers cover a wide range of topics, including cellular engineering and biotechnology, biomaterials and biological interfaces, and biomechanics.

Duma has served on the editorial board of ABME since 2009. As an associate editor, he spearheaded a drive to increase the journal’s coverage of injury biomechanics, a strategic initiative that boosted the publication’s citation metrics as well as coverage of its papers in the media.  

“It’s becoming more and more important for researchers to be part of a broader conversation, both in traditional media and on social media, but it’s a crowded landscape,” Duma said. “Getting research out into the media increases public awareness, attracts support for science and engineering, and helps faculty grow their research programs. Journals have an important role to play in facilitating that, and I’m excited to contribute to it at ABME.”

Duma’s own studies of impact biomechanics have transformed the field's understanding of head and eye injuries and driven the development of safer equipment and procedures in sports, the automotive and consumer-products industries, and the military.

He has authored 483 publications, including 144 journal papers and two books, and won more than $51 million in external funding from sources, including the NIH, NSF, DOD, DOT, FAA, and industry sponsors.

Duma revolutionized the field of concussion biomechanics when he became the first researcher to install wireless acceleration sensors in football helmets in 2003, an innovation that allowed his team to measure hundreds of thousands of real-world head impacts.

The data his techniques generated about head impact exposure in college, high school, middle school, and youth football led to national changes in rules and regulations; in youth football alone, those changes have prevented an estimated 150 million head impacts per year.

Duma also developed methods to recreate those impacts in the lab, facilitating controlled, realistic tests of safety equipment. The result was the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings, which Duma released in 2011 in collaboration with Steve Rowson, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering.

The five-star rating system was the first tool to offer consumers quantitative, evidence-based information about how well a particular helmet reduces concussion risk. It has spurred the design of safer headgear for football, as well as hockey, which was added to the ratings in 2014; the research team is expanding to other sports, including cycling and soccer.  

Duma is the lead investigator at Virginia Tech for a $30 million research partnership between the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Department of Defense, a project that has shed new light on the biomechanics of gender differences in sports-related concussion. He was also the founding director of the university’s Center for Injury Biomechanics, now the world’s largest injury biomechanics group.

Duma was recently named a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, an honor extended to fewer than 150 of the society’s more than 7,000 members.

More information about the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, including instructions for authors, is available on the journal’s website

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