• Ray L. Watts, M.D., UAB's seventh president, has demonstrated visionary leadership in education, research and patient care throughout his career.

    A Birmingham native and graduate of West End High School, Dr. Watts earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering at UAB in 1976. The collaborations he had with biomedical engineering students as an undergraduate sparked an interest in medicine and, four years later, he graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as valedictorian of his class.

    Dr. Watts completed a neurology residency, medical internship, and clinical fellowships at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a two-year medical staff fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. Thereafter he joined the faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, where he was part of a team that created an internationally renowned research and clinical center for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

    Dr. Watts returned to UAB in 2003 as the John N. Whitaker Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology. There he led the development of an interdisciplinary research program aimed at translating scientific breakthroughs into promising new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases and played a key role in the establishment of the UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center. He also was named president of the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation.

    In 2010, Dr. Watts accepted the position of Senior Vice President and Dean of the School of Medicine at UAB, and later was named to the James C. Lee Jr. Endowed Chair. As dean, Dr. Watts – in partnership with UAB Health System and Health Services Foundation leaders – initiated the AMC21 strategic plan to make UAB “the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century,” which has led to the recruitment of outstanding faculty, the launch of programs to accelerate research and drug discovery, and establishment of a third regional medical campus in Montgomery, among other successes.

    Dr. Watts was named president of UAB in February 2013 by unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System. He initiaited and is leading UAB's most comprehensive-ever strategic planning process with campus- and community-wide partnership. During his tenure, UAB has made tremendous strides in all areas of its mission, including record enrollment and development of novel academic programs, substantial growth in research funding and the university's international competitiveness, impactful service to the local and global community, and construction of new state-of-the-art facilities and campus beautification as part of the UAB Campus Master Plan.

    Dr. Watts and his wife Nancy, who worked at UAB as a nurse before retiring, have five grown children.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2017 The effect of unilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation on depression in Parkinson's diseaseBrain Stimulation.  10:651-656. 2017
    2015 Gene delivery of neurturin to putamen and substantia nigra in Parkinson disease: A double-blind, randomized, controlled trialAnnals of Neurology.  78:248-257. 2015
    2015 Spatial topographies of unilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation efficacy for ipsilateral, contralateral, midline, and total Parkinson disease motor symptomsNeurosurgery.  11:80-88. 2015
    2014 Novel, high-intensity exercise prescription improves muscle mass, mitochondrial function, and physical capacity in individuals with Parkinson's diseaseJournal of Applied Physiology.  116:582-592. 2014
    2014 Effects of deep brain stimulation frequency on bradykinesia of Parkinson's diseaseMovement Disorders.  29:203-206. 2014
    2014 A randomized clinical trial of high-dosage coenzyme Q10 in early parkinson disease no evidence of benefitJAMA Neurology.  75:543-552. 2014
    2013 The relationship between clinical phenotype and early staged bilateral deep brain stimulation in Parkinson disease: Clinical articleJournal of Neurosurgery.  119:1530-1536. 2013
    2013 Impaired financial abilities in Parkinson's disease patients with mild cognitive impairment and dementiaParkinsonism and Related Disorders.  19:986-990. 2013
    2012 Reliability of a new scale for essential tremorMovement Disorders.  27:1567-1569. 2012
    2012 Short latency activation of cortex by clinically effective thalamic brain stimulation for tremorMovement Disorders.  27:1404-1412. 2012
    2012 Short latency activation of cortex during clinically effective subthalamic deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's diseaseMovement Disorders.  27:864-873. 2012
    2012 High-frequency deep brain stimulation of the putamen improves bradykinesia in Parkinson's diseaseMovement Disorders.  27:168-169. 2012
    2012 Unilateral subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation improves sleep quality in Parkinson's diseaseParkinsonism and Related Disorders.  18:63-68. 2012
    2011 High-frequency deep brain stimulation of the putamen improves bradykinesia in Parkinson's diseaseMovement Disorders.  26:2232-2238. 2011
    2011 Comparison of weight changes following unilateral and staged bilateral STN DBS for advanced PDBrain and Behavior.  1:12-18. 2011
    2011 Intrastriatal transplantation of microcarrier-bound human retinal pigment epithelial cells versus sham surgery in patients with advanced Parkinson's disease: A double-blind, randomised, controlled trialLancet Neurology.  10:509-519. 2011
    2011 Activation of subthalamic neurons by contralateral subthalamic deep brain stimulation in parkinson diseaseJournal of Neurophysiology.  105:1112-1121. 2011
    2011 The effects of deep brain stimulation on sleep in Parkinson’s diseaseTherapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders.  4:15-24. 2011
    2010 Gene delivery of AAV2-neurturin for Parkinson's disease: A double-blind, randomised, controlled trialLancet Neurology.  9:1164-1172. 2010
    2010 A long-term study of istradefylline in subjects with fluctuating Parkinson's diseaseParkinsonism and Related Disorders.  16:423-426. 2010
    2010 Striatal overexpression of ΔFosB reproduces chronic levodopa-induced involuntary movements 2010
    2010 Onset of dyskinesia with adjunct ropinirole prolonged-release or additional levodopa in early Parkinson's diseaseMovement Disorders.  25:858-866. 2010
    2010 Construction of relational topographies from the quantitative measurements of functional deep brain stimulation using a 'roving window' interpolation algorithmStereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery.  88:16-23. 2010
    2010 Quality of life in parkinson's disease patients following adjunctive tolcapone therapy: Results of an open-label, multicenter, community-based trial 2010
    2009 Relief of acquired stuttering associated with Parkinson's disease by unilateral left subthalamic brain stimulationJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.  52:1652-1657. 2009
    2009 Weight changes associated with unilateral STN DBS and advanced PDParkinsonism and Related Disorders.  15:709-711. 2009
    2009 Bilateral effects of unilateral subthalamic deep brain stimulation on parkinson's disease at 1 yearNeurosurgery.  65:302-309. 2009
    2009 Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry identification of proanthocyanidins in rat plasma after oral administration of grape seed extractPhytomedicine.  16:233-243. 2009
    2009 The contribution of executive control on verbal-learning impairment in patients with Parkinson's disease with dementia and Alzheimer's diseaseArchives of Clinical Neuropsychology.  24:237-244. 2009
    2008 The Gly2019Ser mutation in LRRK2 is not fully penetrant in familial Parkinson's disease: The GenePD studyBMC Medicine.  6. 2008
    2008 Brain metabolism differs in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease dementiaAlzheimer's and Dementia.  4:421-427. 2008
    2008 Medical decision-making capacity in cognitively impaired Parkinson's disease patients without dementiaMovement Disorders.  23:1867-1874. 2008
    2008 Huntington CAG repeat size does not modify onset age in familial Parkinson's disease: The GenePD studyMovement Disorders.  23:1596-1601. 2008
    2008 Replication of association between ELAVL4 and Parkinson disease: The Gene PD studyHuman Genetics.  124:95-99. 2008
    2008 Haplotypes and gene expression implicate the MAPT region for Parkinson disease: The GenePD StudyNeurology.  71:28-34. 2008
    2008 Spheramine for Treatment of Parkinson's DiseaseNeurotherapeutics.  5:252-259. 2008
    2008 A founding LRRK2 haplotype shared by Tunisian, US, European and Middle Eastern families with Parkinson's diseaseParkinsonism and Related Disorders.  14:77-80. 2008
    2008 A pilot clinical trial of creatine and minocycline in early parkinson disease: 18-month resultsClinical Neuropharmacology.  31:141-150. 2008
    2008 Brain N-acetylaspartate is reduced in Parkinson disease with dementiaAlzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders.  22:54-60. 2008
    2007 Notice of redundant publication: "Transdermal rotigotine: Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in Parkinson disease" (Arch Neurol. 2007;64[5]:676-682). In reply [3]JAMA Neurology.  64:1801. 2007
    2007 Ten-year follow-up of Parkinson's disease patients randomized to initial therapy with ropinirole or levodopaMovement Disorders.  22:2409-2417. 2007
    2007 Erratum: Randomized, blind, controlled trial of transdermal rotigotine in early Parkinson disease (Neurology (2007) 68, (272-276))Neurology.  69:617. 2007
    2007 Transdermal rotigotine: Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in Parkinson diseaseJAMA Neurology.  64:676-682. 2007
    2007 Glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms and onset age in α-synuclein A53T mutant Parkinson's diseaseAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics.  144:254-258. 2007
    2007 A randomized clinical trial of coenzyme Q10 and GPI-1485 in early Parkinson diseaseNeurology.  68:20-28. 2007
    2007 Corticobasal degenerationHandbook of Clinical Neurology.  84:351-372. 2007
    2007 Randomized, blind, controlled trial of transdermal rotigotine in early Parkinson diseaseNeurology.  68:272-276. 2007
    2007 Randomized, blind, controlled trial of transdermal rotigotine in early Parkinson disease (Neurolgy (2007) 68, (272-276))Neurology.  69:2187. 2007
    2007 Screening for Lrrk2 G2019S and clinical comparison of Tunisian and North American Caucasian Parkinson's disease familiesMovement Disorders.  22:55-61. 2007
    2006 Herbicide exposure modifies GSTP1 haplotype association to Parkinson onset age: The GenePD studyNeurology.  67:2206-2210. 2006
    2006 Report from a U.S. conference on essential tremorMovement Disorders.  21:2052-2061. 2006
    2006 Clinical features of Parkinson disease patients with homozygous leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 G2019S mutationsJAMA Neurology.  63:1250-1254. 2006
    2006 Influence of heterozygosity for Parkin mutation on onset age in familial parkinson disease: The genePD studyJAMA Neurology.  63:826-832. 2006
    2006 A randomized, double-blind, futility clinical trial of creatine and minocycline in early Parkinson diseaseNeurology.  66:664-671. 2006
    2005 BDNF genetic variants are associated with onset age of familial Parkinson disease: GenePD StudyNeurology.  65:1823-1825. 2005
    2005 Intrastriatal implantation of human retinal pigment epithelial cells attached to microcarriers in advanced Parkinson diseaseJAMA Neurology.  62:1833-1837. 2005
    2005 Occupation and parkinsonism in three movement disorders clinicsNeurology.  65:1430-1435. 2005
    2005 Absence of previously reported variants in the SCNA (G88C and G209A), NR4A2 (T291D and T245G) and the DJ-1 (T497C) genes in familial Parkinson's disease from the GenePD studyMovement Disorders.  20:1188-1191. 2005
    2005 Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, short-term trial of ropinirole in restless legs syndromeSleep Medicine.  6:141-147. 2005
    2004 Levodopa and the progression of parkinson’s diseaseNew England Journal of Medicine.  351:2498-2508. 2004
    2004 The evolving role of monoamine oxidase inhibitors in the treatment of Parkinson's diseaseNeurology.  63. 2004
    2004 Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of entacapone in levodopa-treated patients with stable Parkinson diseaseJAMA Neurology.  61:1563-1568. 2004
    2004 Treatment of depression in Parkinson's diseaseParkinsonism and Related Disorders.  10. 2004
    2004 Erratum: Glutathione S-transferase omega-1 modifies age-at-onset of Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease (Human Molecular Genetics (2003) vol. 12 (3259-3267))Human Molecular Genetics.  13:573. 2004
    2004 Ophthalmologic features of Parkinson's diseaseNeurology.  62:177-180. 2004
    2004 Implantation of Spheramine® in advanced Parkinson's Disease (PD)Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark.  9:592-602. 2004
    2003 Glutathione S-transferase omega-1 modifies age-at-onset of Alzheimer disease and Parkinson diseaseHuman Molecular Genetics.  12:3259-3267. 2003
    2003 A haplotype at the PARK3 locus influences onset age for Parkinson's disease: The GenePD studyNeurology.  61:1557-1561. 2003
    2003 The effect of coenzyme Q10 therapy in Parkinson disease could be symptomatic [4]JAMA Neurology.  60:1170-1173. 2003
    2003 Association study of Parkin gene polymorphisms with idiopathic Parkinson diseaseJAMA Neurology.  60:975-980. 2003
    2003 Slower progression of Parkinson's disease with ropinirole versus levodopa: The REAL-PET studyAnnals of Neurology.  54:93-101. 2003
    2003 Benefits and risks of pharmacological treatments for essential tremorDrug Safety.  26:461-481. 2003
    2003 Parkin mutations and susceptibility alleles in late-onset Parkinson's diseaseAnnals of Neurology.  53:624-629. 2003
    2003 Genetic polymorphisms of the N-acetyltransferase genes and risk of Parkinson's diseaseNeurology.  60:1189-1191. 2003
    2003 Mitochondrial polymorphisms significantly reduce the risk of Parkinson diseaseAmerican Journal of Human Genetics.  72:804-811. 2003
    2003 Assessment of sleepiness and unintended sleep in Parkinson's disease patients taking dopamine agonistsSleep Medicine.  4:275-280. 2003
    2003 Stereotaxic intrastriatal implantation of human retinal pigment epithelial (hRPE) cells attached to gelatin microcarriers: A potential new cell therapy for Parkinson's diseaseJournal of neural transmission. Supplementum.  215-227. 2003
    2002 Effects of coenzyme Q 10 in early Parkinson disease: Evidence of slowing of the functional declineJAMA Neurology.  59:1541-1550. 2002
    2002 Depression associated with Parkinson's disease: Clinical features and treatmentNeurology.  58. 2002
    2002 Epidemiologic study of 203 sibling pairs with Parkinson's disease: The GenePD studyNeurology.  58:79-84. 2002
    2002 Age at onset in two common neurodegenerative diseases is genetically controlledAmerican Journal of Human Genetics.  70:985-993. 2002
    2002 PARK3 influences age at onset in Parkinson disease: A genome scan in the GenePD studyAmerican Journal of Human Genetics.  70:1089-1095. 2002
    2001 Association of single-nucleotide polymorphisms of the tau gene with late-onset parkinson diseaseJournal of the American Medical Association.  286:2245-2250. 2001
    2001 Complete genomic screen in parkinson disease evidence for multiple genesJournal of the American Medical Association.  286:2239-2244. 2001
    2001 Genome-wide scan for Parkinson's disease: The GenePD studyNeurology.  57:1124-1126. 2001
    2001 Randomized trial of tolcapone versus pergolide as add-on to levodopa therapy in Parkinson's disease patients with motor fluctuationsMovement Disorders.  16:858-866. 2001
    2001 An algorithm (decision tree) for the management of Parkinson's disease (2001): Treatment guidelinesNeurology.  56. 2001
    2001 Complications of gamma knife surgery for Parkinson diseaseJAMA Neurology.  58:1995-2002. 2001
    2001 Corticobasal degenerationSeminars in Neurology.  21:49-58. 2001
    2000 Synthesis, biodistribution, and primate imaging of fluorine-18 labeled 2β-carbo-1'-fluoro-2-propoxy-3β-(4-chlorophenyl)tropanes. Ligands for the imaging of dopamine transporters by positron emission tomographyJournal of Medicinal Chemistry.  43:639-648. 2000
    1999 Juvenile Parkinson's disease with REM sleep behavior disorder, sleepiness, and daytime REM onsetNeurology.  53:1868-1870. 1999
    1999 The α-synuclein gene is not a major risk factor in familial Parkinson disease [2]Neurogenetics.  2:191-192. 1999
    1999 Comparison of MPTP-induced changes in spontaneous neuronal discharge in the internal pallidal segment and in the substantia nigra pars reticulata in primatesExperimental Brain Research.  125:397-409. 1999
    1997 Polymer-encapsulated PC-12 cells demonstrate high-affinity uptake of dopamine in vitro and 18F-dopa uptake and metabolism after intracerebral implantation in nonhuman primatesCell Transplantation.  6:469-477. 1997
    1997 Corticobasal degeneration: Neuropathologic and clinical heterogeneityNeurology.  48:959-969. 1997
    1997 Effect of stereotaxic intrastriatal cografts of autologous adrenal medulla and peripheral nerve in Parkinson's disease: Two-year follow-up studyExperimental Neurology.  147:510-517. 1997
    1997 Fluorine-18-FPCT: A PET radiotracer for imaging dopamine transportersJournal of Nuclear Medicine.  38:119-126. 1997
    1997 The role of dopamine agonists in early Parkinson's diseaseNeurology.  49. 1997
    1996 Event-related potential P3 change in mild Parkinson's diseaseMovement Disorders.  11:32-42. 1996
    1996 Cognitive estimation in patients with Alzheimer's diseaseCognitive and Behavioral Neurology.  9:35-42. 1996
    1996 Depression and disability in Parkinson's diseaseJournal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.  8:20-25. 1996
    1995 Disruptive Nocturnal Behavior in Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's DiseaseJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology.  8:107-110. 1995
    1995 Intrastriatal cografts of autologous adrenal medulla and sural nerve in MPTP-induced parkinsonian macaques: Behavioral and anatomical assessmentCell Transplantation.  4:27-38. 1995
    1994 Progressive supranuclear palsy: Neuropathologic and clinical heterogeneityNeurology.  44:1015-1024. 1994
    1993 Mitochondrial dna variants observed in alzheimer disease and parkinson disease patientsGenomics.  17:171-184. 1993
    1992 Core assessment program for intracerebral transplantations (CAPIT)Movement Disorders.  7:2-13. 1992
    1992 Early Experience with Autologous Intrastriatal Adrenal Medulla/Nerve Cografting in Parkinson’s DiseaseNeural Plasticity.  3:272-273. 1992
    1992 Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation defects in Parkinson's diseaseAnnals of Neurology.  32:113-114. 1992
    1992 Quantifying Improvement Following CNS Transplantation in Hemiparkinsonian Monkeys Using Operant Behavioral TasksNeural Plasticity.  3:238-239. 1992
    1992 ReplyAnnals of Neurology.  32:227-227. 1992
    1992 The role of motor cortex in the pathophysiology of voluntary movement deficits associated with parkinsonismNeurologic Clinics.  10:451-469. 1992
    1991 Electrophysiologic analysis of early Parkinson's disease.Geriatrics.  46 Suppl 1:31-36. 1991
    1991 Autologous adrenal medulla-to-caudate grafting for Parkinsonism in humans and in nonhuman primatesFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology.  12:357-378. 1991
    1991 Clinical improvement in parkinsonian patients undergoing adrenal to caudate transplantation is not reflected by chromogranin a or basic fibroblast growth factor in ventricular fluidExperimental Neurology.  111:276-281. 1991
    1991 Clozapine is beneficial for psychosis in parkinson's diseaseNeurology.  41:1699-1700. 1991
    1991 Electrophysiologic analysis of early Parkinson’s diseaseNeurology.  41:44-48. 1991
    1991 Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation defects in parkinson's diseaseAnnals of Neurology.  30:332-339. 1991
    1991 United parkinson foundation neurotransplantation registry on adrenal medullary transplants: Presurgical, and 1– and 2–year follow–upNeurology.  41:1719-1722. 1991
    1990 Changes in Endocrine Function after Adrenal Medullary Transplantation to the Central Nervous SystemJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.  71:773-776. 1990
    1990 Effect of adrenal-caudate transplantation on CSF levels of salsolinol sulfate in patients with Parkinson's disease.Journal of neural transmission. Supplementum.  32:481-484. 1990
    1990 Movement amplitude choice reaction time performance in Parkinson's disease may be independent of dopaminergic statusJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.  53:279-283. 1990
    1990 Preliminary report on adrenal medullary grafting and cografting with sural nerve in the treatment of hemiparkinson monkeysProgress in Brain Research.  82:581-591. 1990
    1990 Preliminary report on adrenal-brain transplantation for parkinsonism in manStereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery.  54:312-323. 1990
    1990 Waht is it? Case 1, 1990: Progressive unilateral rigidity, bradykinesia, tremulousness, and apraxia, leading to fixed postural deformity of the involved limbMovement Disorders.  5:341-351. 1990
    1989 Adrenal Medullary Autografts in Patients with Parkinson's DiseaseNew England Journal of Medicine.  321:324-327. 1989
    1988 Dopaminergic effects on simple and choice reaction time performance in Parkinson’s diseaseNeurology.  38:249-254. 1988
    1986 Elastic properties of muscles measured at the elbow in man: I. normal controlsJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.  49:1171-1176. 1986
    1986 Elastic properties of muscles measured at the elbow in man: II. Patients with Parkinsonian rigidityJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.  49:1177-1181. 1986


    Year Title Altmetric
    2004 Movement Disorders: Neurologic Principles & Practice, Second Edition 2004


    Year Title Altmetric
    2005 Depression, psychosis, and cognitive dysfunction in parkinson's disease.  237-250. 2005
    2005 Task-Specific Tremor.  263-274. 2005
    2003 Management of neurobehavioral symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.  159-177. 2003

    Education And Training

  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Internship
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Residency
  • Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Doctor of Medicine, Washington University/St. Louis 1980
  • Full Name

  • Ray Watts