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John Watts

John A. Watts, PhD John A. Watts, PhD
Director, Emergency Medicine Preclinical Research
Department of Emergency Medicine
Adjunct Research Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Adjunct Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Prior Positions and Experience

2007-2009 Board of Directors, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, American Heart Association
2006-2007 Chair, Mid-Atlantic Research Committee, American Heart Association
2006-2007 Steering Committee, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, American Heart Association
2006-2007 Delegate to National Research Strategic Planning, American Heart Association
2004-2007 Board of Directors, North Carolina Association of Biomedical Researchers
2002–2007 Mid Atlantic Research Committee, American Heart Association
1996-2003 Adjunct Research Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)
1994-1996 Adjunct Research Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)
1994-1995 Associate Director, Emergency Medicine Research, Department of Emergency Medicine, Carolinas Medical Center
1990-1994 Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
1985-1990 Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
1979-1985 Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, NC)
1977-1979 Post-Doctoral Fellow, M.S. Hershey Medical Center, Physiology Department, Pennsylvania State University (Hershey, PA)


Education

PhD: 1977, University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
BA: 1971, Drew University (Madison, NJ)

Mechanisms Compromising Right Ventricular Function in Pulmonary Embolism

Dr. Watts’ main research interest is to investigate mechanisms contributing to right ventricular damage and processes controlling pulmonary vascular resistance during pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism occurs when a venous blood clot breaks free and lodges in the blood vessels of the lungs. This causes increased pulmonary vascular pressure, resulting in increased stretch, shear forces and work and decreased blood flow to the right ventricle.

Right ventricular damage is associated with a dramatic increase in mortality and morbidity in patients with pulmonary embolism. The goal of Dr. Watts’ research is to develop therapies to dilate non-blocked pulmonary arteries and to protect the right ventricle during the time when the blood clot is being cleared from the lungs, to reduce mortality and to enhance the quality of life for the survivors of pulmonary embolism. Our recent studies in rodent models of pulmonary embolism show that early pro-inflammatory responses in the heart contribute to the extension of heart damage, while later responses contribute to healing of the heart. Current experiments test interventions designed to reduce the heart damage for translation into clinical studies. Our newest studies examine mechanisms of endothelial cell dysfunction and factors that control pulmonary artery resistance to blood flow during pulmonary embolism. The goal of this research is to identify therapies to enhance blood flow and gas exchange and to reduce right ventricular afterload during pulmonary embolism. 

Recent Publications

Watts, J.A., Gellar, M.A., Fulkerson, M.B.K., Kline, J.A. A soluble guanylate cyclase stimulator, BAY 41-8543, preserves right ventricular function in experimental pulmonary embolism. Pulm. Pharmacol. Therap. 2013;26(2):205-211. [PMID: 23142020]

Gruber, HE, Watts, JA, Riley FE, Fulkerson M-B, Norton, HJ, Hanley EN.  Mitochondrial bioenergetics, mass and morphology are altered in cells of the degenerating human intervertebral annulus.  J. Orthopaedic Res. 31(8):1270-1275, 2013.  [PMID:  23575904]

Watts, J.A., Gellar, M.A. Fulkerson, M.B.K., Das, S., Kline, J.A. Arginase depletes plasma L-arginine and decreases pulmonary vascular reserve during experimental pulmonary embolism. Pulm. Pharmacol. Ther. 2012;25:48-54. [PMID: 22079739]

Watts, J.A., Lee, Y., Gellar, M.A., Fulkerson, M.B.K., Hwang, SI, Kline, J.A. Proteomics of microparticles after experimental pulmonary embolism. Thromb. Res. 2012;130:122-138. [PMID: 22014850]

Studnek, J.R., Watts, J.A., Vandeventer, S., Pearson, D. Assessing the Influence of Flow Rate and Insulation upon Intravenous Fluid Infusion Temperature. Acad. Emerg. Med. 2012;19:1309-1312. [PMID: 23167865]

Watts, J.A., Marchick, M.r., Gellar, M.A., Kline, J.A. Up-regulation of arginase II contributes to pulmonary vascular endothelial cell dysfunction during experimental pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics 2011;24:407-413.  [PMID: 21281730]

Watts, J.A., Gellar, M.A., Stuart, L., Obraztsova, M., Marchick, M.R., Kline, J.A. Effects of angiotensin (1-7) upon right ventricular function in experimental rat pulmonary embolism. Histology and Histopathology 2011;26(10):1287-1294. [PMID: 21870332]

Watts, J.A., Gellar, M.A., Fulkerson, M.B.K., Kline, J.A. Pulmonary vascular reserve during experimental pulmonary embolism: Effects of a soluble guanylate cyclase stimulator, BAY 41-8543. Crit. Care Med 2011;39:2700-2704. PMID: 21705882

Gruber, H.E., Watts, J.A., Hoelscher, G.L., Bethea, S., Ingram, J.A., Zinchenko, N., Hanley, E.N. Mitochondrial gene expression in the human annulus: In Vivo data from annulus cells and from selectively harvested senescent annulus cells. The Spine 2011;11(8):782-791. [PMID: 21784712]

Watts, J.A., Marchick, M.R., Kline, J.A. Right ventricular heart failure from pulmonary embolism: Key distinctions from chronic pulmonary hypertension. J. Card. Fail. 2010;16(3):250-259. [PMID: 20206901]

Runyon, M.S., Gellar, M.A., Sanapareddy, N., Kline, J.A., Watts, J.A. Development and comparison of a minimally-invasive model of autologous clot pulmonary embolism in Sprague-Dawley and Copenhagen rats. Thrombosis Journal 2010;8:3. [PMID: 20181228]

Zagorski, J., Obraztsova, M., Gellar, M.A., Kline, J.A., Watts, J.A. Transcriptional changes in right ventricular tissues are enriched in the outflow tract compared with the apex during chronic pulmonary embolism in rats. Physiol. Genomics 2009;39:61-71. Note: Featured Article with Cover Art. [PMID: 19602618]

Watts, J.A., Gellar, M.A., Stuart, L.K., Obraztsova, M., Kline, J.A. Proinflammatory events in right ventricular damage during pulmonary embolism: Effects of treatment with Ketorolac in rats. J. Cardiovasc. Pharmacol. 2009;54(3):246-252. [PMID: 19620882]

Watts, J.A., Gellar, M.A., Obraztsova, M., Kline, J.A., Watts, J.A. Role of inflammation in right ventricular damage and repair following experimental pulmonary embolism in rats. Int. J. Exp. Path. 2008; 89(4): 389-399. [PMID: 18808531] 

Zagorski, J., Sanapareddy, N., Gellar, M.A., Kline, J.A., Watts, J.A. Transcriptional profile of right ventricular tissue during acute pulmonary embolism in rats. Physiological Geonomics 2008; 34:101-111. [PMID: 18430806] 

Zheng, J., Tian, Q., Hou, W., Watts, J.A., Schrum, L. Bonkovsky, H.L. Tissue-Specific Expression of ALA Synthase-1 and Heme Oxygenase-1 and Changes in Their Gene Expression in Livers of Rats Chronically Exposed to Ethanol. FEBS Letters 2008; 582: 1829-1834. [PMID: 18472004]

Zagorski J, Gellar MA, Obraztsova M, Kline JA, Watts JA. Inhibition of CINC-1 decreases right ventricular damage caused by experimental pulmonary embolism. J Immunol 2007; 179: 7820-7826. [PMID: 18025228]

Watts JA, Zagorski J, Gellar MA, Stevinson BG, Kline JA. Cardiac inflammation contributes to right ventricular dysfunction following experimental pulmonary embolism in rats. J Mol Cell Cardiol 2006; 41: 296-307. [PMID: 16814320]

Watts JA, Kline JA.  Bench-to-Bedside: The role of mitochondrial medicine in the pathogenesis and treatment of cellular injury.  Acad Emerg Med 2003; 10: 885-897. [PMID: 12957984]

Zagorski J, Debelak J, Gellar M, Watts JA, Kline JA. Chemokines accumulate in the lungs of rats with severe pulmonary embolism induced by polystyrene microspheres. J Immunol 2003; 171: 5529-5536. [PMID: 14607960]

Jones AE, Watts JA, Debelak JP, Thornton LR, Younger JG, Kline JA.  Inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis during polystyrene microsphere-induced pulmonary embolism in the rat. Am J Physiol Lung Resp Physiol 2003; 284: L1072-L1081. [PMID: 12639842]

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