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Associate Professor, Medicine
Associate Professor, Global Health


Dr. Watkins is a hospitalist at Harborview Medical Center and a physician-scientist in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. His scholarly work focuses health system reform and policy challenges in low- and middle-income countries.

Education & Training

  • MD, Duke University, School of Medicine, Durham, NC (2010)
  • Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2010–2013)
  • Master of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2015)
  • Research fellowship, global health economics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2015)


  • Resident Excellence in Teaching Award (2012)
  • Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town (2010)
  • Senior Scholarship (2009)
  • Publication of the Month, University of Cape Town (2009)
  • Alpha Omega Alpha (2009)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (2005)
  • Eta Sigma Phi (2003)


Dr. Watkins is an associate professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and in the Department of Global Health. He currently leads the University of Washington site for the Disease Control Priorities Project and is affiliated with the Implementation Science Program in the Department of Global Health. Additionally, he is the co-director of the Learning for Action in Policy Implementation and Health Systems (LAPIS) initiative. He studies health system reform and policy challenges, with a particular emphasis on universal health coverage and the growing burden of non-communicable diseases in low-income countries.

His team works in three thematic areas: (1) population and economic modeling to support policy analysis, (2) integrated healthcare delivery, and (3) use of evidence in policy formulation. In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Watkins teaches on global noncommunicable diseases and quantitative research methods and practices as a hospitalist at Harborview Medical Center.

Dr. Watkins received a bachelor of science from Rhodes College and a doctor of medicine from Duke University before moving to Seattle, where he completed a residency in internal medicine at the UW, an MPH through the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and a research fellowship in health economics with the Disease Control Priorities Network.

Current Projects

Disease Control Priorities Project

Dr. Watkins leads the UW site for the DCP Project, which provides recommendations for health policy and strategy in low- and middle-income countries via evidence synthesis, development of new methods and tools for policy analysis, and technical assistance for ministries of health. He is also a Series Editor for the forthcoming 4th edition of the DCP book series (DCP4) and leads the DCP4 analytics team. The DCP Project is currently sponsored by the Trond Mohn Foundation (Bergen, Norway), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and the Norwegian Research Council and has been supported in the past by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded the production of the Disease Control Priorities, 3rd Edition (DCP3) series.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Elimination

Dr. Watkins collaborates on a range of projects sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and by the American Heart Association that are focused on rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. For example, he is co-PI of an R01 that is evaluating the impact of an integrated RHD secondary prevention program in northern Uganda. Additionally, he is frequently invited to serve as a scientific advisor for international commissions, task forces, and initiatives on rheumatic heart disease, with a particular expertise in its economic and policy dimensions.

Hypertension Investment Case

Dr. Watkins is PI on a grant from Resolve to Save Lives (an initiative of Vital Strategies) that is developing epidemiological, demographic, and economic models and data visualization tools to help analyze and advocate for interventions that address hypertension in a range of low- and middle-income countries.

Other Research Activities

Dr. Watkins serves on several international commissions that include primary research activities. For example, he is a commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Cancer and Health Systems, for which he co-chairs a working group on the economics of cancer care. He is also a commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People, for which he chairs a working group on priority interventions. Additionally, he is a scientific advisor for a newly-launched commission by the World Bank on Healthy Longevity, which will provide guidance to countries on priorities for noncommunicable disease prevention and control, sustainable long-term care systems, and the integration of health and social protection policies. His research team is frequently contracted to conduct policy analyses for the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Publication Highlights

Disease Control Priorities

Watkins DA, Nugent RA, Saxenian H, Yamey G, Danforth K, et al. Intersectoral policy priorities for health. Chapter 2. In: Jamison DT, Gelband H, Horton S, Jha P, Laxminarayan R, Mock CN, Nugent R, eds. Disease Control Priorities, Third Edition, Volume 9. 2018. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi: 10.1596/978-1-4648-0527-1_ch2.

Watkins DA, Jamison DT, Mills A, Atun R, Danforth K, et al. Universal health coverage and essential packages of care. Chapter 3. In: Jamison DT, Gelband H, Horton S, Jha P, Laxminarayan R, Mock CN, Nugent R, eds. Disease Control Priorities, Third Edition, Volume 9. 2018. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi: 10.1596/978-1-4648-0527-1_ch3.

Jamison DT, Alwan A, Mock CN, Nugent R, Watkins D, et al. Universal health coverage and intersectoral action for health: findings from Disease Control Priorities, 3rd Edition. Lancet 2018; 391(10125):1108-20. doi:

Watkins DA, Qi J, Kawakatsu Y, Pickersgill SJ, Horton SE, Jamison DT. Resource requirements for essential universal health coverage: A modelling study based on findings from Disease Control Priorities, 3rd Edition. Lancet Glob Health 2020; 8(6)e829-39. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30121-2.

Lofgren KT, Watkins DA, Memirie ST, Salomon JA, Verguet S. Balancing health and financial protection in health benefit package design. Health Econ. 2021 Dec;30(12):3236-3247. doi: 10.1002/hec.4434. 

Rheumatic Heart Disease

Watkins DA, Lubinga SJ, Mayosi BM, Babigumira JB. A cost-effectiveness tool to guide the prioritization of interventions for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease control in African nations. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2016; 10(8):e0004860. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004860.

Watkins DA, Johnson CO, Colquhoun SM, Karthikeyan G, Beaton A, et al. Global, regional, and national burden of rheumatic heart disease, 1990-2015. New Engl J Med 2017;377:713-22. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1603693.

Watkins D, Beaton A, Carapetis J, Karthikeyan G, Mayosi B, et al. Rheumatic heart disease worldwide: JACC Scientific Expert Panel. J Amer Coll Cardiol 2018; 72(12):1397-1416.

Abrams J, Watkins DA, Abdullahi LH, Zuhlke LJ, Engel ME. Integrating the prevention and control of rheumatic heart disease into country health systems: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Glob Heart 2020; 15(1):62. doi:

Ndagire E, Kawakatsu Y, Nalubwama H, Atala J, Sarnacki R, Pulle J, Kyarimpa R, Mwima R, Kansiime R, Okello E, Lwabi P, Beaton A, Sable C, Watkins DExamining the Ugandan health system's readiness to deliver rheumatic heart disease-related services. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2021 Feb;15(2):e0009164. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009164. 

Global Health and Non-Communicable Diseases

Nugent R, Barnabas R, Golovaty I, Osetinsky B, … Watkins DCosts and cost-effectiveness of HIV/NCD integration in Africa: From theory to practice. AIDS 2018; 32(suppl 1):S83-S92. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000001884.

Watkins DA, Yamey G, Schaferhoff M, Adeyi O, Alleyne G, et al. Alma-Ata at 40 Years: Reflections from the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health. Lancet 2018; 392(10156):1434-60. doi:

Watkins DA, Hale J, Hutchinson B, Kataria I, Kontis V, Nugent R. Investing in noncommunicable disease risk factor control among adolescents worldwide: A modelling study. BMJ Glob Health 2019; 4:e001335. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001335.

Watkins DACardiovascular health and COVID-19: Time to reinvent our systems and rethink our research priorities. Heart (Online First: 03 November 2020). doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2020-318323.

Pickersgill SJ, Msemburi WT, Cobb L, Ide N, Moran AE, Su Y, Xu X, Watkins DAModeling global 80-80-80 blood pressure targets and cardiovascular outcomes. Nat Med. 2022 Aug;28(8):1693-1699. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01890-4. 

Watkins DA, Msemburi WT, Pickersgill SJ, Kawakatsu Y, Gheorge A, et al. NCD Countdown 2030: efficient pathways and strategic investments to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4 in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet. 2022 Mar 26;399(10331):1266-1278. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02347-3. Review. PubMed PMID: 35339227; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8947779.