NASS Insider

March 07, 2023

The NASS Backbone - Section Chair Edition: Donna Ohnmeiss, PhD

Welcome again to The NASS Backbone, the series bringing our NASS volunteers to the forefront. NASS has a multitude of committees, sections, workgroups, and task forces working hard to bring the best spine education, research, and advocacy directly to you. But who are these volunteers, and why do they do what they do? This series highlights various volunteers from all areas of NASS, showcasing their experiences both within and outside of NASS.

In this edition, we talk to Donna Ohnmeiss, PhD, Co-Chair of the new Section on Innovative Spine Research and Novel Technologies.

Donna Ohnmeiss, PhD
Donna Ohnmeiss, PhD
NASS: Tell us a bit about yourself ...
Dr. Ohnmeiss: I’m Donna Ohnmeiss and I have been involved with spine research at the Texas Back Institute Research Foundation for more than 30 years. I, along with Zorica Buser, co-chair the newly developed Section on Innovative Spine Research and Novel Technologies. Away from work, I enjoy gardening, and returning home to the small town in central Texas where I grew up to spend time with family and friends (including a few deer who are happy to visit me on the patio to share a few snacks).

NASS: How long has the Section been around and why was it formed?
Dr. Ohnmeiss: This is a very new Section that is just being established. It was formed to provide a forum for NASS members who are full-time researchers to exchange information and share ideas as well as to provide a research resource to other members and possibly industry.

NASS: What professions/specialties/experience make up the members of this Section?
Dr. Ohnmeiss: While dedicated to research, there is wide range of backgrounds we hope become active in the Section. The primary Section membership are PhDs specializing in all aspects of spine research including basic science, clinical studies, biomechanics, imaging technology, psychology, functional assessment/wearable technology, and other areas.
NASS: In your opinion, how does this Section further NASS' mission to provide multidisciplinary evidence-based health care to members?
Dr. Ohnmeiss: Research produces the evidence upon which evidence-based care is based. The Section is multidisciplinary. Hopefully by furthering the anatomical and pathological understanding of spinal problems, contributing to the advancement of diagnostics and interventions, developing more sensitive outcome assessments, and evaluating treatment outcomes, the Section has the potential to impact multiple facets of operative and non-operative spine care.

NASS: Are there any recent webinars, podcasts or courses you'd like to direct members to listen/watch/attend? What makes them unique?
Dr. Ohnmeiss: I don’t frequently view webinars, but I was intrigued by one titled “Gut, the Final Frontier: Understanding the Link Between the Microbiome and the Spine,” which NASS provided in September 2022. It was very informative and included links related to infectious agents, degenerative conditions, and failure of instrumented fusion. While this area is sometimes controversial, the webinar provided good information.