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Perumal named research leader for SDSU pharmacy

Omathanu Perumal
Omathanu Perumal

Successful SDSU pharmacy researcher Omathanu Perumal has accepted the challenge to create even more research in the college.

On Sept. 8, Dan Hansen, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions at South Dakota State University, announced that Perumal would move to associate dean of research effective Sept. 22. He has served as head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences since the 2013 retirement of Department Head Emeritus Chandradhar Dwivedi. Perumal’s new position became open with the June 22 retirement of Professor Emeritus Xiangming Guan.

Perumal has served on the SDSU faculty since 2005, when he arrived here after a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Wayne State in Detroit.

His roots are in India. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmacy in India, where he also worked as a lecturer and senior research fellow until coming to the University of Kentucky as a postdoctoral scholar in 2003.

At SDSU, he was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor (2009) to professor (2014.)

 

Continues role as 3D Center director

He also directed the Translational Cancer Research Center (2013-15) and earlier this year was named director of the college’s Center for Drug, Disease and Delivery, which will focus on modifying existing drugs to optimize their biological and delivery properties, identifying new molecular targets for existing drugs and/or developing new formulations and delivery systems for existing drugs.

Perumal also has directed the Ph.D. program in pharmaceutical sciences since 2017.

As a researcher, Perumal has received seven patents between 2013 and 2017, primarily licensed to his Brookings startup company Tranzderm Solutions. He specializes on using nanoparticles, often from corn, to deliver drugs. In 2017, he received the Pat and Jo Canon Intellectual Property and Commercialization Award at SDSU.

Hansen said, “Om’s research success at SDSU coupled with his passion to mentor young researchers makes him the ideal candidate for the associate dean of research position. I look forward to working with him to develop a long-range strategic plan for the research arm of this college.”

 

Looks to expand research within college

Traditionally, research within the college has been concentrated in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. However, in recent years there has been significant research growth in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and the Department of Allied and Population Health, which was created in 2019 and includes medical laboratory science, respiratory care and Master of Public Health.

While well-versed with research within pharmaceutical sciences, he said one of his short-term goals is to familiarize himself with research in the Department of Allied and Population Health, which includes the Community Practice Innovation Center. It specializes in developing innovative community-based programs to advance practice transformation.

“Given the growing research in pharmacy practice and population health along with the pharmaceutical sciences research, the college now has a broad research portfolio that spans bench-based research to patient outcomes research. Developing depth in research focus areas will require strategic planning,” Perumal said.

 

Classroom duties unchanged

“Looking back at my time as department head of pharmaceutical sciences in the past eight years, there has been a big increase in research funding within the department (from an annual research funding of $500,000 in 2013 to close to $1 million in 2021).

“I’m a very big believer in team science and teamwork. This is something that is very exciting to me; to help others succeed and really promote cross-disciplinary research— across departments and across institutions. That’s one of the big attractants for me,” Perumal said of his new position.

His former position will be filled in-house on an interim basis with the search for a replacement to be launched in the spring.

Perumal’s faculty role will be unchanged, teaching courses in pharmaceutics for pharmacy students and graduate courses in pharmaceutics and techniques in pharmaceutical sciences. His faculty research role will decrease and his role with the Drug, Disease and Delivery Center will focus more on expanding partnerships and collaborative research.

Perumal and his wife, Meena, have two sons, Nithin, a sophomore at Brookings High School, and Jagat, a fifth grader at Camelot Elementary.