University of Minnesota

James Watt, MD, DrPH

1911 — 1995

James Watt, Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS, was born in Thomasville, GA, and earned his MD in 1935 and Dr PH in 1936 from Johns Hopkins. He was the National Heart Institute Director from 1952-1961.

Watt spent many years studying diarrheal diseases and polio in the USPHS before he was named director of the National Heart Institute in 1952. There he was centrally responsible for putting epidemiological studies on the research agenda of the Institute. He forwarded the Framingham Study and was involved, with Paul White and Gunnar Biorck, in establishing the CVD Unit of the WHO with Zdenek Fejfar as its first director. Leadership in epidemiology and prevention research in the US can be traced back directly to his views and activities on the national and international scene.


Watt, J. 1957. Measuring the risk of coronary heart disease in adult population groups; summary. Am J Public Health 47(4 Part 2), p 63.

James Watt Obituary, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, August 24, 1995, p B6.

Correspondence, James Watt to Zdenek Fejfar, July 8 1992. University of Minnesota CVD Epidemiology History Archives.

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