John Ring LaMontagne, Ph.D., served NIAID with distinction for nearly three decades. Dr. LaMontagne was the Institute’s first influenza program officer and then director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. He served as NIAID deputy director from 1998 until his death in 2004. Dr. LaMontagne’s distinguished leadership in the field of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases earned him international recognition, numerous professional accolades, and widespread appreciation and admiration.
Dr. La Montagne, a native of Mexico City, Mexico, received his Ph.D. from Tulane University in 1971. In 1976, he came to NIH as the Influenza Program Officer at the NIAID. He became the Program Officer for the Viral Vaccines Program in 1983, and the Influenza and Viral Respiratory Diseases Program Officer in 1984. Beginning in 1986, Dr. La Montagne assumed the role of Director of the AIDS Program. In 1987 he was appointed Director of the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Program, which became a Division in 1988. Dr. La Montagne was appointed Deputy Director of the NIAID in February 1998.
Dr. La Montagne made significant contributions to the national and international effort against emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, including biodefense-related activities, and has been recognized internationally for his leadership in this area. He played a central role in the organization of the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria, an international effort involving research, control, and development agencies from the U.S., Europe, and Africa. In addition, he served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Groups of Experts on Vaccines and Biologicals as well as for Vaccines and Immunization for the World Health Organization. He chaired the WHO Task Force on Strategic Planning for the Children’s Vaccine Initiative, advised the Pan American Health Organization on their programs in vaccine research implementation, and served as a member of the board of the Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development. Dr. La Montagne also served as a member of the Biomedical Research Confederation Executive Steering Committee at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, and as co-chair of the Research and Development Gaps Working Group, a component of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council. His outstanding administrative leadership at NIH included membership on the NIH Community Advisory Board for Security and the recently formed NIH Ethics Advisory Committee.
As an influential contributor to the field of infectious diseases, Dr. La Montagne delivered numerous major lectures all over the world. He received many prestigious awards for his scientific accomplishments, including the PHS Special Recognition Award for leadership in childhood vaccine research programs, the Surgeon General’s Certificate of Appreciation, the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award, the Distinguished Executive Award for his work in the areas of infectious diseases research of global health relevance, the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service for leadership of acellular pertussis vaccine trials, and most recently the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service for design and implementation of critically important biodefense strategies.