UW School of Dentistry


John C. Wataha , DMD, PhD

Professor, Restorative Dentistry
Adjunct Professor, Oral Health Sciences



Box 357456


Dr. Wataha holds a BS in Chemistry from Stanford University (1978, with distinction). He has also earned a D.M.D. from the Oregon Health Sciences University in 1982 (with high honors) and a Ph.D. in Biomaterials and Oral Biology from the University of Michigan in 1992.  His Ph.D. mentors were Dr. Robert G. Craig and Dr. Tom Hanks.

Research Interests & Scholarship

Dr. Wataha’s research focuses primarily on the field of biocompatibility, wherein he studies the effect of dental materials upon the environment of the mouth on a molecular level.   He also is interested in designed therapeutic effects of dental restorative materials.  He has authored over 170 peer-reviewed articles, 48 book chapters, and over 185 abstracts on these subjects.  He also is co-inventor on 11 invention disclosures or patents in this area.   He has given more than 140 invited presentations to groups both nationally and internationally.  Over the years, his research has been funded by the NIH, several corporations, the Department of Energy, and Restorative Dentistry endowment funds.   He has been a reviewer for more than 30 journals and has served on the editorial boards of 7 journals over the years.  He also has served ad-hoc on numerous NIH study sections as well as for several international grant agencies (Ireland, Israel).


  • Dental Anatomy & Occlusion
  • Operative Dentistry
  • Prosthodontic and Operative Clerkships (selected topics on dental materials and biocompatibility)
  • Graduate Prosthodontics (selected topics, dental materials and biocompatibility)

Awards and Professional Service

Dr. Wataha is a member of Phi Beta Kappa from his time at Stanford University. He received the Alpha Omega Scholarship in 1982 while at OHSU. He has also received a Quintessence Award (1982), the Dental Assistant Teacher’s Award at OHSU (1982), and the Dominic D. Dziewiatkowski Award for Excellence in Research at the University of Michigan in 1992. He was named Instructor of the Year at the University of Michigan Dental School by the second year class for three years running (1993, 1994 and 1995). In 2000 he was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award at the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry, as well as a Teaching Excellence Award in 2002 while at the same institution. Dr. Wataha received the Rothwell Award for distinguished teaching in 2012 while at the UW-SOD, and has been acknowledged by students for contributions to teaching in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015.  He has been invited to give the annual White Coat Ceremony keynote address from 2009-2015 and was invited by students to give the UW-SOD commencement address in 2015.  Dr. Wataha has served as a site visitor for the Council on Dental Accreditation and on several American Dental Association Test Construction committees (biochemistry-physiology and testlet construction).  He has been asked to contribute materials to the Prosthodontics Board Examination, and in 2000, he was invited to serve on a task force evaluating the chemical safety of palladium at the World Health Organization.

Personal Interests

Dr. Wataha is a composer and pianist.  He and his wife enjoy their cats, cooking, walking, and reading.