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Facilitating Forensic Research in Multiple Fields Using a Unique Computed Tomography Dataset

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $702,654)

As submitted by the proposer:
We will develop a complete, ready to use, user-friendly, large-scale, next generation free access data resource that will allow research in forensic anthropology, pathology, and radiology. The project’s primary outcome consist of:

A website that will provide metadata regarding a dataset of 11,000 full-body computed tomography (CT) scans of unembalmed human decedents. Each individual is represented by ~12,000 images. Researchers will request the scans that meet their research requirements and will receive the scans on portable hard drives. This resource will allow a multitude of new, next generation, big data research endeavors in forensic anthropology and medico-legal death investigations. By providing access to 11,000 whole-body CT scans, this resource will enable research that is currently impossible. Due to funding, access, and other limitations, no single researcher could create the resource we will develop. However, by leveraging the products of past funding by the State of New Mexico and the National Institute of Justice we are able to produce this invaluable resource. Further, our team has in-depth past experience developing a similar research resource.

The whole-body CT data and associated metadata we will standardize, curate, and make available allows whole-body questions to be asked, within individuals and within a population. Just a few areas in which new research projects would be possible once this database has been created include: detecting child abuse through a better understanding of childhood health and bone density; survivability of trauma to the body in unhelmeted motorcycle deaths; refinement of aging and sexing methods; and lean and fat body mass estimation from the skeleton. The information made available by this project will allow these analyses and many others in forensic science.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 16, 2016