SMU eNews

Samuel Merritt University Strengthens its Research Focus: New Research Room Named after a Biomechanical Pioneer

Along with its mission to prepare healthcare practitioners, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) is looking toward the future with a new research focus to achieve national recognition as a health sciences institution in clinical education.  Next year a new state-of-the-art Motion Analysis and Research Center (MARC) lab will open with new avenues of research. 

The MARC, which will be located in the atrium of the Health Education Center on the Oakland campus, will be utilized by both podiatric medical and physical therapy faculty and students in support of education, research and patient care.  "In the arenas of education and patient care, the MARC will expand learning and the clinical application of knowledge in both normal and pathological studies of biomechanics, upper and lower body motion analysis, gait and the effect of treatment modalities," explains Dr. John Venson, Dean of the California School of Podiatric Medicine (CSPM), a school within the University.

The MARC will also expand opportunities for current clinical trial programs into areas of corporate product research, product comparison studies and new product trials.  The new Center will include an eight camera motion analysis capture system, in-floor pressure transducers, in-shoe pressure transducers, and additional devices for range of motion and strength measurement. 

"Podiatric medical students will interact with the MARC throughout their four years at CSPM as both a formal part of the educational process and through involvement in research and clinical trials," adds Dr. Venson.  "Residents, faculty, practitioners and additional research disciplines, such as bioengineers and biomechanicists, will be invited and encouraged to utilize the MARC."

Recently, SMU has received a matching grant from Root Laboratory, Inc, a northern California company known in the podiatric medicine profession for its development and manufacture of prescription foot orthoses.  The matching grant from Root Lab Inc. has made possible the renovation and technological upgrade of the MARC.  One of the research rooms inside the lab will be named after the company founder, Merton L. Root, DPM.

Dr. Root is known as a biomechanical pioneer and graduated from the California College of Podiatric Medicine (CCPM), now known as CSPM.  He served as chair of biomechanics at CCPM from 1961 until 1968 where he returned to teaching part-time.  In the podiatric medical community, Dr. Root is considered one of the most influential educators in the profession.  His theories laid the groundwork for the modern orthotic industry which has contributed to the fields of sports medicine and podiatry.

 "I am inspired by the dedication of one of the research rooms in the future MARC to a man who had such an impact on biomechanics," said Cherri Choate, DPM and Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Biomechanics in the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine program at CSPM.  "Just as the pioneers of Drs. Root, Weed and Orien developed fundamental concepts in lower extremity biomechanics, this lab room within the MARC will be a vehicle for the development of lower extremity biomechanics at CSPM and SMU.  As an alumni, I am proud of the efforts over many decades, by many individuals to keep biomechanics part of the core curriculum at CSPM and in the field of podiatric medicine/surgery."

The Root Lab Inc. gift will match donations made to the University by December 31, 2012 on a dollar-for-dollar basis.  For every $100 the University raises, Root Lab will contribute $100 (up to a maximum of $12,500) towards naming a research room in Dr. Root's name. Samuel Merritt University is grateful to those who have donated to the MARC, and especially to Root Lab Inc. for their support that has enabled the institution to exapand its facilities for current and future students.  For more information on how to donate to the MARC please contact the University's Development and Alumni Affair office at 510.869.6725.