Dr. Purnima Kumar received her Bachelor of Dental Surgery (B.D.S.) degree from Annamalai University, India in 1987 and completed a residency in Periodontology from University of Madras, Chennai, India in 1991. Following her training, she practiced in India and the United Arab Emirates before pursuing further training in the United States. She subsequently obtained a Certificate in Periodontology and a Ph.D. in Oral Biology from The Ohio State University in 2005, and joined the section as an Assistant Professor in 2006.
Dr. Kumar’s research focuses on oral bacterial profiles associated with periodontal health and disease. Two major projects are currently underway in the laboratory. The first involves the characterization of subgingival microbial profiles of periodontally healthy smokers and smokers with periodontitis using an integrated approach combining epidemiology, molecular microbiology and bioinformatics. Smoking can cause changes in the human host, including host-associated bacterial colonization factors. Thus, it is possible that smokers have a unique microbial profile that is different from non-smokers. This has proved to be the case in other ecosystems in the body. Dr. Kumar’s studies have shown that most of the subgingival bacteria are uncultivated, and hence are not known or recognized as pathogens. Current studies are directed towards identifying previously unknown and unsuspected bacterial species associated with health and disease in smokers. Dr. Kumar is also studying the role of host genetics on oral bacterial colonization. Current studies are directed towards understanding the role of the host genotype on determining host-specific bacteria.
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