The Office of Research is pleased to welcome Walter J. Esselman, PhD, as its Senior Associate Dean of Research. Known for fostering cross-college research synergies, collaborative projects and for pursuing foundation and federal support for global health projects, Dr. Esselman will work closely with Jeffrey Dwyer, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Innvovation and Community Partnerships. Prior to joining the office, he served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics for ten years. Under his leadership the department recruited over 20 new faculty members in a range of disciplines including microbial ecology, infectious diseases, genetics, immunology, virology and microbiology. Dr. Esselman has had a career of garnering research funding for his lab and of publishing research reports in fundamental immunology and diabetic retinopathy. He is currently a co-investigator or PI on several NIH grants. Dr. Esselman’s current position in the College of Human Medicine seeks to extend and develop research in basic science and to foster the translation of scientific discoveries into clinical treatments that contribute to overall well-being.
Dr. Esselman’s current research interests revolve around questions involving the regulation of signaling in the activation and transformation of lymphocytes and inflammatory cells that lead to diabetic retinopathy. In close collaboration with Dr. Julia Busik, Dr. Esselman has studied the mechanism of microvascular damage initiated by pro-inflammatory substances and mediators. These mediators attract and activate leukocytes from the blood that enter the retinal vessels and cause inflammation. The overall result is damage to the retina that is known as diabetic retinopathy. The ultimate goal is to explain why certain organs are at great risk for diabetic complications and to devise means to block the damaging effects of inflammation.
Dr. Esselman received a BS in Chemistry from the Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.) and a PhD in Biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University. After post-doctoral work at Michigan State University he joined the faculty in the departments of Surgery and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics in the College of Human Medicine.