John T. Watson is a Founder of the William von Liebig Center for Entrepeneurism and Technology Advancement and Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. For the Center, he works to improve the efficiency of commercializing UCSD Jacobs School inventions. As Professor, his research interests include: combination heart failure therapy using bioengineering assisted circulation and adjunct agents. He also conducts research leading to public policy that decreases the timeline from conception to clinical use of new medical innovations.
Dr. Watson attended the University of Cincinnati and later received his M.S.M.E from Southern Methodist University while working as a Systems Engineer on the Ling-Temco-Vought XC-142 Vertical Takeoff Transport. He contributed to the design of the hydraulic system that controlled vertical and horizontal flight. To his surprise the XC-142 was mentioned as a key advance in history celebrating the Wright Brothers and worldwide aviation.
He received his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in1972. At Southwestern, Dr. Watson served as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Physiology and Chairman of the Graduate Studies Program in Biomedical Engineering. In 1976, he joined the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health as Chief of the Devices and Technology Branch. There, he oversaw research and development of cardiovascular imaging systems such as MRI, ultra-fast CT, PET and Ultrasound; implantable materials used in current cardiovascular implants and devices; ventricular assist systems and the total artificial heart. He then served as Acting NHLBI Deputy Director and Director of Clinical and Molecular Medicine until 2003, with oversight of 60 major clinical trials, genomics and proteomics, tissue engineering and regeneration, computational biology and informatics, and adult and pediatric circulatory support programs.
Dr. Watson was the first NIH scientist/engineer elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and was an invited member of the nominating committee for the Japanese Kyoto Prize and the NAE Draper Prize.