Robert F. Rushmer was founding director of the Center for Bioengineering at the University of Washington. He was a pioneer in using bioengineering to track cardiac function and monitor living hearts.
Rushmer was born in Ogden, Utah, and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1935 and Rush Medical College in 1929. After studying pediatrics and aviation medicine at the Mayo Foundation, he became a professor at the Seattle campus of the University of Washington in 1947.
At the University of Washington, he and his students developed innovative ways to study heart functions in animals that did not require the use of anesthesia or the removal of the heart. In the 1950s, he adopted techniques that Japanese scientists had developed to measure blood flow and the pumping heart using Doppler ultrasound. These techniques were used to monitor fetal heart rate and prevent premature deaths from undiagnosed circulatory problems.