David J. Porta

David Porta

Dr. David J. Porta teaches Anatomy & Physiology and Gross Anatomy while mentoring undergraduate research students.  He is an anatomist working primarily in the area of trauma biomechanics.  His ongoing projects attempt to clarify human tolerance to impact forces (several studies utilizing human cadaver specimens) and define the mechanisms of injury in motor vehicle accidents and sporting environments.  This work has both scientific and forensic value.  He has collaborated with engineers, medical examiners, orthopedic surgeons, and emergency physicians in addition to law enforcement personnel.  Dr. Porta also holds an adjunct faculty appointment at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, in the Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, where he teaches human gross anatomy for dental, graduate, or medical students.


David James Porta, Ph.D. Biography (Long) 

   Dr. David J. Porta was recently promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Biology at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY (eff. 8/05).  He also holds an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anatomy position in the Department of Anatomical Sciences & Neurobiology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine where he has taught Gross Anatomy for Medical and Dental students since 1990.  When not teaching or doing trauma research, Dr. Porta has served as a consultant to the UofL Emergency Department and Medical Examiner’s offices in Kentucky.   He has also been called as an expert witness in legal cases involving a range of injury mechanisms from child abuse to medical malpractice, and product design to motor vehicle crash.

As an undergraduate, he was a member of the “Cardinal Section” honors program at Bellarmine University while playing intercollegiate baseball and serving as President of the Science Club.  He graduated in 1988 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Biology (Pre-Medical  track) and Business Administration while receiving the following awards- “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges,” “Faculty Merit Award in Science,” “College Merit Award,” “College Service Award” and the “Baseball Coaches Award.”  The following summer he married his high school sweetheart, Nancy Crane, and began graduate work in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Louisville.  He tutored over 100 medical students and served as President of the Graduate Student Council for 2 years.  Three years into his graduate study he was accepted into medical school but declined in order to complete his doctoral work and pursue a career in teaching and research.  In 1993, he was hired into a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Biology at his alma mater.  In 1995, he was elected “Teacher of the Year” by the students and received merit awards for teaching and research.  In 1996, he was elected to “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” and was again awarded merit for teaching and research.  In the same year, he finally completed and defended his doctoral dissertation titled “The Anatomy and Biomechanics of Experimentally Traumatized Human Cadaver Lower Extremities” and was awarded his Ph.D.  In 1999, he received the “Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence” at the University of Louisville Medical School and in 2001 he earned his second “Teacher of the Year” award at Bellarmine University.  In 2004, he was awarded the first “Ron Doyle Excellence in Teaching” award by the Dental School.  In 2005, he received his 3rd Bellarmine “Teacher of the Year” award and was honored with the “Charles Bertram Alumni Award of Distinction” presented by the Great Lakes Valley Conference to a former athlete who achieved distinction as a student, athlete and member of the alumni.

Dr. Porta serves as the Research Anatomist for the Engineering Institute for Trauma & Injury Prevention at the University of Tennessee and has also performed research at Virginia Tech and the S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo. He has been a member of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the International Traffic Medicine Association, the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, the Society for Automotive Engineers, the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, and the American Association of Anatomists.  He has performed cadaver research on injuries to the head, face, spine, humerus, finger, thigh, leg and ankle.  His work has been presented in the form of  15 peer-reviewed papers, 4 book chapters, 29 published abstracts, over 50 guest lectures, and 53 professional presentations at the meetings of The American Association of Clinical Anatomists, The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, The International Congress for the Society of Automotive Engineers, The International Workshop on Human Subjects for Biomechanical Research, The International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles, and The International Research Conference on Biomechanics of Impact.

Dr. Porta’s ongoing research interests include the study of:  Injuries in the Motor Vehicle Environment;   Bone Fracture Patterns from Torsion vs. Bending vs. Combined Loading;  Mechanisms of Ankle Fracture; Automotive Restraint System Development and Analysis;  Identification of Bruising via Infra-Red Imaging;  Mineral Content of Bones;  Grip Strength and Hand Torsional Forces in Particular Human Populations; The Relationship of Injury Classification Systems and Mechanisms of Injury;  The Use of Various Chemicals for Detection and Enhancement of Blood Spatter Patterns;  Scarring of Paravertebral Muscles and the Possible Relationship to Chronic Pain;  BB and Paintball Ballistics; and the Study of Fractures resulting from Accidental vs. Intentional  Injury.

   Dr. Porta makes his home in the Cardinal Hill neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky with his lovely wife, Nancy (Bellarmine M.B.A. 1998) and their beautiful daughters Layne Marie (age 13) and Emily May (age 7).
rev. 5/18/05


  •  (502) 452-8009
  •  dporta@bellarmine.edu
  •  Human Anatomy & Trauma Biomechanics Bellarmine College BIOL Dept. Room P158