David M. Umulis named head of Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering

David M. Umulis has been named the Dane A. Miller Head of Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, effective July 1.
David M. Umulis, named Dane A. Miller Head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Umulis currently is a professor of biomedical engineering and of agricultural and biological engineering, as well as associate head for research in BME. He joined the Purdue Engineering faculty in 2008.

The incoming head’s research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the Showalter Foundation, Purdue University, and others. Umulis is a member of the Purdue University Teaching Academy, and he has received the outstanding teacher award in ABE, the Teaching for Tomorrow Award, the 2011 Richard L. Kohls Early Career Award, and the 2021 Henry T. Yang Award for Leadership in Service from Purdue’s College of Engineering.

Among recent accomplishments, he led an effort to establish a new research collaboration between Purdue BME and external stakeholders in Indiana by organizing the Indiana CTSI (Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute) Retreat. In addition, during Purdue’s COVID-19-related transition to remote work, he was responsible for protecting irreplaceable research assets, including cells, animals and reagents.

“I thank the search committee’s outstanding work since last fall,” said Mung Chiang, executive vice president, Purdue University, and John A. Edwardson Dean, College of Engineering. “David Umulis is an impactful research leader; an award-winning teacher; a widely respected mentor to young faculty colleagues; and an administrator with a proven track record, including his handling of the safe and successful reopening of the BME research facility. The Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, with its unique strengths, holds a key position in the future of our College, as the vital connection between engineering and medicine is of the highest importance. I am excited that David will lead Purdue BME to excellence at scale.”

Umulis said: “I am excited and honored to lead the vibrant school moving forward, and I will do so with energy, equity, diligence, strategy, integrity and experience. The Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University, with the recently completed new BME Innovation Wing and the Engineering-Medicine PEI (Purdue Engineering Initiative), is poised for preeminence in critical research and translational impact in medicine. I look forward to leading the faculty, staff, alumni and students in future areas of strategic growth in learning and research, including multimodal sensing, smart wearable and implantable devices, data-driven personalized medicine, rapid diagnostics, and healthcare delivery.  Purdue BME has the talent and environment to lead, and I’m thrilled to play my part as the next head. Hail Purdue!”

Umulis serves on numerous grant review panels and boards, including the European Science Foundation, and as a standing member on the NIH Development 1 study section.

He received a BSE in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Umulis will succeed George R. Wodicka, the founding head of BME, who has served on the School’s faculty since 1989 and as head since 1998. During Wodicka’s tenure as head, the School has built an intellectual property portfolio of more than 100 issued U.S. patents, with more than half licensed to Indiana medical device companies. Among other achievements are major partnerships with the Indiana University School of Medicine and other academic and corporate entities; construction and expansion of a new BME building; creation of MS/MBA, MD/PhD and MD/MS programs with business and medical schools; and research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Wodicka will remain as a BME faculty member and continue to serve the School, College and University — including as deputy director of the Indiana CTSI program, faculty co-chair for the Engineering-Medicine Initiative, and as co-director of the Engineering Pediatrics Consortium with Riley Hospital for Children.

Chiang reflected on Wodicka’s leadership: “George Wodicka has been one of the most incredible leaders at Purdue Engineering in the past several decades. Leading Purdue BME since its founding and through 23 years of tremendous growth, George has the strong admiration from both Purdue and the biomedical field throughout Indiana. As we thank George for his long-standing service, we also look forward to his continued contribution to the joint initiatives between Purdue Engineering and IU School of Medicine.”