|John Ring LaMontagne Chair|
Honoring A True Public Health Hero: John Ring LaMontagne
Dr. John Ring LaMontagne helped advance science to fight many of the world’s most devastating diseases: Influenza, tuberculosis, malaria, whooping cough, swine flu, childhood diarrhea, pneumonia and AIDS. He was a real hero of public health and through his work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), championed science that ultimately helped millions of people. Sadly, John died on November 2, 2004.
We are fortunate that Dr. LaMontagne’s family, friends and colleagues came together to launch the fundraising campaign for the John Ring LaMontagne Chair in Infectious Diseases and Global Health. The endowed chair has recently reached the goal of $1 million, thanks to gifts and pledges from over 70 individuals, corporations, and foundations. Now that the endowment is fully funded, the LaMontagne Chair will support a talented faculty member performing globally relevant, cutting-edge research in infectious disease in the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. The LaMontagne Chair is being created to parallel Dr. LaMontagne’s focus and advance his life vision.
Dr. LaMontagne was passionate and dedicated to making this a healthier world. This is an exceptionally fitting tribute to LaMontagne and it is a vitally important resource for UT Austin. The chair is being established at a seminal moment for the College of Natural Sciences. Dean Linda Hicke, who joined the college as its new dean in summer 2012, is moving the college through a rigorous strategic planning process and the LaMontagne Chair will be a key resource to attract a prestigious faculty member to UT Austin.
About Dr. John LaMontagne
Dr. John LaMontagne received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in microbiology at The University of Texas at Austin and received his Ph.D. at Tulane University. He joined the NIH in 1976 as the Influenza Program Officer and was ultimately appointed Deputy Director in 1998 of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He remained close to UT Austin by working through NIAID with our faculty and by serving as a loyal and generous alum.
Dr. LaMontagne was vocal about the need for the university to conduct more research into infectious diseases.
The recognition and accolades Dr. LaMontagne received spanned the globe. In January 2010, the Dr. John R. LaMontagne Research Center in the community of Banacoumana, Mali, Africa, was dedicated in his honor. During this special occasion the President of Mali bestowed the high honor of Chevalier of the Nation posthumously to Dr. LaMontagne. The dedication of this center to Dr. LaMontagne’s memory helps mark 20 years of cooperation between the University of Bamako School of Medicine, Mali and the United States NIAID/NIH. The research conducted in Mali has led to significant advances in the fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculoses. On the day of the dedication, a thousand children surrounded the center chanting “John LaMontagne,” waving U.S. and Mali flags, and many were wearing t-shirts with John’s picture.