LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Researchers are now making athletes faster and stronger at the University of Kentucky. 

At a ribbon-cutting Wednesday, officials dedicated the new Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI) at the university in Lexington. UK officials say there is no other facility like it within 400 miles. 

“This group is on the cutting edge of sports science, human performance,” UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said. 

The 10,000-square-foot, state-of the-art facility will help researchers study strength, endurance, performance and injury risk for athletes. 

"The technology is all high-tech, it's all brand new, state-of-the-art,” said Kelsey Picha, a SMRI Research Assistant.

A biomechanics lab can help researchers analyze motion using 14 cameras similar to the technology used to make video games and animated movies. Equipment shaped like a horse can even simulate the movements of jockeys. In the neurocognitive lab, researchers use virtual reality for concussion recovery. 

"It isn't just rehabbing an injury for us, for our student athletes," Barnhart said. "It's about preventing injuries."

The technology and research will help prevent injuries for those college athletes, everyday Kentuckians and even some of our military servicemen and women. The facility was funded in part by a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. 

"We're very excited, as I said, to have the access here at the University of Kentucky that our cadets can take advantage of,” said Troy Kenning, a major in the U.S. Air Force working for UK’s ROTC program.

In addition to the center in Lexington, researchers are working directly with the military in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune. The UK team works with MARSOC – The Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. 

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