Purmessur Walter, Devina
My research training and diverse scientific background in musculoskeletal pathophysiology has provided me with a unique experimental skill set – combining biochemistry and immunology with biomedical engineering that enables me to investigate clinically relevant questions and mechanisms while grounded in fundamental basic science and engineering. I am currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. I have developed a unique multidisciplinary program funded by both NIH and NSF that bridges the Colleges of Engineering, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine here at Ohio State through clinical and research collaborators in Orthopedics and Neuroscience in the College of Medicine and Neurosurgery and Orthopedic collaborators in the College of Veterinary Medicine. There exists an unmet clinical need where the clinicians do not have access to the necessary tools and non-addictive biologics to treat low back pain and regenerate the IVD. Therefore my long-term research interests lie in understanding the Intervertebral disc (IVD) joint of the spine as a whole organ system and how cellular, biochemical and biomechanical cross-talk influence the pathogenesis of discogenic back pain while simultaneously developing suitable in vitro and in vivo animal models for clinical translation to identify transformative non-additive biological strategies for back pain. My graduate academic training at the University of Manchester, industry training at Pfizer, (Pain therapeutics) and training in the Spine Bio-engineering labs at the University of Vermont and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York has provided me with a strong foundation in IVD pathophysiology, developmental biology, mechanotransduction and pre-clinical models of low back pain. In addition to research, I am deeply committed to teaching and mentoring; this involves providing our biomedical engineering students with the necessary knowledge and transferable skill sets to help them identify and solve complex real world problems that exist at the intersection of Engineering and Medicine. In the research laboratory this is focused on independent thinking and problem solving as well as creativity associated with developing and testing unique hypotheses. Through my NSF CAREER award, I have developed an outreach program targeting pre-school and Kindergarten aged-children focused on STEM and how our musculoskeletal systems work called “Skeleton school” with support from my colleagues and students in Biomedical Engineering. Furthermore, through my service I support a diverse and inclusive learning environment at the University and Scientific community level. This has included my roles in Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, NSF REU and Women in Engineering graduate council as well as providing professional development/educational and network opportunities at the National and International level through my roles in the Spine Research section community and Orthopaedic Research Society.