Faculty Feature David Bark

Raised in a rural farming town in northern Illinois, Dave began his career baling hay and detasseling corn. This occurred in between hide and seek among farm equipment. Dave’s academic career began at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Coming from an engineering parent and another that taught math, it was clear that Mechanical Engineering was the right degree path. While at UIUC, Dave (misguidedly) tried out as a walk-on for the Fighting Illini football team, renowned for their football prowess. Despite Dave’s small stature and slow speed he didn’t make the team when he missed a practice due to studying. Simultaneously, a new degree (bioengineering) began to pop up around the U.S., including at UIUC. Eager to combine his interests of medicine and engineering, Dave began a minor in bioengineering. He also switched from designing fuel control systems for jets to developing pacemakers and atherectomy devices in his summers. Realizing that graduate school would be needed to work in R&D, he decided to pursue a MS.

Dave wanted to be somewhere with mountains and hiking. This led him to work under David Ku at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and the Appalachians. Dave thinks David Ku convinced him to remain for a PhD when they both went to France in Dave’s second year, as David Ku taught at Georgia Tech Lorraine (GT’s international campus). Dave still comments about his experience with the Haute Route during this time, a breathtaking hike from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland. Falling for his second love (platelets), Dave completed his PhD theorizing how platelet transport and binding kinetics  contribute to thrombosis while he also investigating hemostasis as an openside flanker with the local rugby club.  As a clear choice of rugby and mountain paradise, Dave joined Tim David’s lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand to create a computer model of cerebrovascular flow in response to metabolic demand. This experience was short-lived due to an earthquake that devastated Christchurch. To enter more stable ground, Dave began work with Shaun Jackson. At the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases at Monash University, Dave learned from amazing scientists and contributed to the finding that microvascular obstruction in ischemia/reperfusion injury might be related to platelet-neutrophil aggregates in response to biophysical changes in platelets. The best part of the move to Australia is that Dave met his future wife, his lifelong collaborator. 

In 2014, Dave returned to the U.S. with his wife to take a position developing prosthetic heart valves at Colorado State University (CSU) with Lakshmi Prasad Dasi. During this time, Dave received an F32 fellowship and helped to develop polymeric and mechanical heart valves, while using special surface treatments. Dave’s advisor changed universities, leading to a year at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus before Dave started as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and School of Biomedical Engineering at CSU.  While at CSU, Dave received both National Science Foundation and American Heart Association funding, while teaching courses in the area of biofluid mechanics. Without a medical school at CSU, clinical collaborations became challenging. This led Dave to pursue an amazing opportunity at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dave and his amazing wife moved to the Central West End, where they are now enjoying the experience of renovating a house. As an Assistant Professor in Pediatrics Hematology and Oncology, Dave continues to poke at platelets and to study them in flow, while developing cardiovascular medical devices and determining how mechanics influence heart development.

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