September 27, 2011

Levi Watkins Jr., M.D., to Deliver Namesake Lecture at Noon on Tuesday, Oct. 11

Levi Watkins Jr. M.D., associate dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and professor of Cardiac Surgery, will headline the lecture bearing his name at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in October.

Watkins, pioneering African-American physician world renowned for his work developing heart rhythm devices and treatments, will deliver the 10th Annual Levi Watkins Jr. Lecture on Diversity in Medical and Graduate Education at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in 208 Light Hall. He will speak on “Human Defibrillation: History and Evolution.”

The first African American to be accepted into Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and the first to graduate in 1970, Watkins was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and in 1988 was awarded the Vanderbilt Medal of Honor for outstanding alumni.

In 2008, he received the University’s “Most Distinguished Alumnus Award” and currently serves on the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust.

Watkins performed the world’s first human implantation of the automatic implantable defibrillator in 1980 and subsequently developed several different techniques for the implantation of this device. The development of this technology has saved more than 650,000 lives and continues to be an important part of cardiac dysrhythmia therapy.

Throughout his career, Watkins has been involved in both medical and human rights leadership roles. His efforts to increase the number of minority medical faculty across the nation have been recognized nationally and in 1983 he was appointed to the National Board of the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Faculty Development Program. The Guidant Corp. honored him in 2000 for his pioneering work on the automatic defibrillator.


Four recently published books, "African-American Medical Pioneers" by Charles Epps, Jr., "Here Is My Hope" by Randi Henderson, "They Too Call Alabama Home" by Richard Bailey and "Noteworthy Publications by African-American Surgeons" by Claude Organ Jr., M.D. all featured his achievements.