Dr. Michael T. Watkins worked on developing new ways to repair thoracic aortic aneurysms, as well as addressing complications that occur after restoring blood flow in patients with critical limb ischemia.
Thoracoabdominal aneurysms are particularly difficult to treat. Located in the chest and abdomen, they usually begin close to the large blood vessels supplying the brain and arms and terminate near the major vessels supplying the kidneys, intestines, and lower extremities. Open surgical repair is the primary treatment for complex thoracoabdominal aneurysms, but this can cause spinal cord injury. Dr. Watkins is developing a drug to treat and prevent possible spinal cord injury following surgical repair of aortic aneurysms in the thorax.
Dr. Watkins also studied why tissues become damaged after blood flow is restored in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), which can cause chronic inflammation and even strokes. Dr. Watkins worked on developing new treatments that will save patients’ limbs without complications.
After receiving the Wylie Scholar Award, Dr. Watkins became the Director of the Vascular Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, which has received grants from the NIH and American Diabetes Association. With extensive teaching experience and being a national lecturer about vascular research, he was also appointed to the Harvard Medical School Faculty Council.