Dr. James Watt served with distinction for 30 years in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS).
His early research helped lead to control measures to reduce the incidence of major diarrheal diseases, a major cause of death among children. He continued his research focus by establishing an NIH-supported research center at Louisiana State University in 1948. While he was the National Heart Institute Director, the first patient for heart disease research was admitted to the NIH clinical center.
In 1961, Dr. Watt was named Chief Assistant to the Surgeon General and led the PHS Office of International Health; he also became one of the first recipients of the prestigious Bronfman Prize for Public Health Achievement. He was named special assistant to the Surgeon General for program review in 1967 and retired from PHS in 1968.