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John A. Viator is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Engineering at Duquesne University. His research focuses on biomedical optics, which involves the use of lasers and light to enhance human health. He is particularly interested in employing photoacoustics, also known as laser-induced ultrasound, for medical diagnostics. His work aims to detect the early stages of cancer spread in human blood, thereby improving cancer therapy management. Additionally, he utilizes optics to study skin cancer, burn injuries, and other diseases and injuries in the fields of dermatology, surgery, and oncology.

The Viator lab, spanning 900 square feet, serves as a state-of-the-art biomedical optics laboratory. It is equipped with optical tables, lasers, detection electronics, machining and electronics fabrication facilities, as well as wet lab space for working with tissue and tissue phantoms.


Dr. Viator holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Washington in Seattle, a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the University of Oregon in Eugene, a Master of Science degree in applied physics from the Oregon Graduate Institute, and a PhD in electrical engineering from Oregon Health & Science University. He retired as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 2007, having received his commission from the Naval R.O.T.C. unit at the University of Washington. Throughout his military career, he served in various roles, including on a guided missile destroyer, with the Military Sealift Command during Operation Desert Shield, and with the Office of Naval Research.

Dr. Viator has conducted research in different institutions and laboratories, including the University of Oregon's nuclear physics laboratory, the Oregon Medical Laser Center, the Beckman Laser Institute, the Department of Dermatology at Oregon Health & Science University, the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri, and currently at Duquesne University.

With expertise in optics, acoustics, and human health, Dr. Viator has authored over one hundred technical publications. He is the Chief Scientific Officer and Founder of Acousys Biodevices Inc, a company established to commercialize his photoacoustic technology. He holds more than twenty issued patents with several others pending.

Dr. Viator's research has received significant support from prestigious organizations, including grants totaling over $4 million from the National Institutes of Health, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the Missouri Life Sciences Research Board, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, and other agencies.


  • NIH Post Doctoral Fellow, Dermatology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, 2003-2004
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomedical Engineering, Beckman Laser Institute, University of California, Irvine, California, 2000-2003
  • Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, Oregon Health & Science University, 2001
  • M.S., Mathematics, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 1993
  • B.S., Physics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 1985

Areas Of Expertise

  • Photoacoustic sensing
  • Biomedical photonics
  • Laser-tissue interactions


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