Statement on the Death of John R. La Montagne, Ph.D., NIAID Deputy Director
John R. La Montagne, Ph.D., deputy director of the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes
of Health (NIH), died suddenly in Mexico City on November 2, 2004.
He was 61.
All of us are profoundly saddened by the loss of John La
Montagne, said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. Personally,
he was a dear friend and one of the finest people I have ever known.
Professionally, in an NIH career spanning nearly 30 years, his leadership
and commitment to improving global health were remarkable. His generosity,
wit, even-handedness and kindness made him a friend to all who knew
him. He will be sorely missed.
Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human
Services, the parent agency of NIH, said, We mourn the passing
of John La Montagne, a true public health hero whose leadership,
especially in the realm of infectious diseases, left the world a
healthier place. His passing is a tremendous loss for all of us.
Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director, said, John La Montagne
devoted his life to improving the health of children and adults
here and abroad. His leadership and counsel have been invaluable
in NIH research efforts to fight emerging and re-emerging diseases,
including biodefense research activities. I count myself lucky to
have known and worked with John.
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
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 Childrens 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 Generals 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 Secretarys
Award for Distinguished Service for leadership of acellular pertussis
vaccine trials, and most recently the Secretarys Award for
Distinguished Service for design and implementation of critically
important biodefense strategies.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services