Duquesne Announces Director of New Biomedical Engineering Program

Dr. John A. Viator has been named the inaugural director of the new Biomedical Engineering Program at Duquesne University, effective Sept. 1. The program, which will enroll its first class of students in the fall of 2014, is the only engineering degree offered in Southwestern Pennsylvania at a top-tier Catholic research institution.

"We are very pleased to have secured the commitment of someone of Dr. Viator's caliber to lead our new Biomedical Engineering Program," said Duquesne President Dr. Charles J. Dougherty. "He is an accomplished scholar and designer of innovative medical devices. Viator will help us build a faculty committed to quality undergraduate teaching. We also expect him to play an important role in applying our Catholic and Spiritan mission to this emerging new world of biomedical engineering."

Viator is an associate professor in both the bioengineering and dermatology departments at the University of Missouri (MU), where he also is a faculty investigator for the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center. In his research lab, Viator and a team of students have been researching better ways to detect melanoma and early detection of additional types of cancer that have metastasized, such as breast cancer.

"I'm incredibly honored to be chosen to lead this effort," said Viator. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to find a university that is fully committed to creating a new program in biomedical engineering. Together, we're going to build something great, and I can't wait to get started."

An award-winning educator, Viator holds four patents and has been awarded more than $1.6 million in grants during his career from organizations including the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute, the Missouri Life Sciences Trust Fund and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery Research. He is founder and president of Viator Technologies Inc. and founder and chief executive officer of Avapulse Research, LLC.

"There is a big demand for biomedical engineering," Viator explained. "There are a lot of issues with health care for which you need engineers to solve problems to improve human health. If you're going to start an engineering program, biomedical engineering is really the place to start because of the advantages of the demand, the new technology, and the timeliness of problems in human health."

Viator has held posts at Blue Road Research; the University of California, Irvine; Oregon Health & Science University; the Office of Naval Research; the Oregon Medical Laser Center; Conix Research; and the University of Oregon. He is on the expert review board for the University of Nebraska's Department of Biological Systems Engineering, is a member of the board of directors for the MU Biodesign and Innovation Program and is a member of the MU School of Medicine Scientific Peer Review Committee.

Among the courses that Viator has developed and taught are medical imaging, programming for engineers, biological engineering and problems in biological engineering. His work has appeared in publications such as Progress in Electromagnetics Research, Journal of Biomedical Optics, Clinics in Laboratory Medicine and the International Journal of Thermophysics, among others.

A now-retired lieutenant commander with the U.S. Naval Reserve (1985-2007), Viator served active duty aboard a guided missile destroyer as an engineering division officer for the Military Sealift Command during Operation Desert Shield.

Viator earned a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Washington, a master's in mathematics from the University of Oregon, a master's in applied physics from the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Oregon Health & Science University.

He and his wife Melissa have four children-Isabella, Kolbe, Francesca and Lorenzo.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.