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August M. Watanabe, MD, died on 9 June 2009 at the age of 67 years. He was a pioneer in the study of myocardial cellular mechanics. He led research and development at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, Indiana, for nearly a decade.
Dr. Watanabe received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from Wheaton College in 1963 and a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1967. He did additional postgraduate work in clinical pharmacology at the Laboratory of Clinical Science of the National Institute of Mental Health and in cardiology at the Indiana University Medical Center. Dr. Watanabe was a full-time faculty member at Indiana University School of Medicine from 1971 to 1990, and, in 1978, he became the youngest Professor of Medicine at the University. From 1983 to 1990, he served as Chairman of the Department of Medicine.
In 1990, Dr. Watanabe joined Eli Lilly and Company. By 1994, he had become President of Lilly Research Laboratories. During his tenure there, the Lilly research and development organization more than doubled in size as Dr. Watanabe recruited some of the world's top biomedical scientists. From 1996 to 2003, he served Lilly as Executive Vice President of Science and Technology and as a member of its Board of Directors. Under his direction, Lilly launched 11 important new pharmaceutical products, and, upon his retirement, he left the company well-positioned with a very rich pipeline of potentially important drugs in development.
In his professional career, he wrote or cowrote more than 100 scientific publications and book chapters and served on numerous committees for the American Heart Association and on the most prestigious editorial boards for cardiovascular journals in the world. He was a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and Alpha Omega Alpha; and he was a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians.
Dr. Watanabe was a kind, friendly, smart, and thoughtful person, and one always willing to help students and colleagues. He contributed a great deal to drug development in the United States. With his passing, the world has lost a very fine cardiovascular scientist, role model in medicine, and educator. For many of us in cardiovascular medicine, we have lost a great friend.