Biology major, top doctoral student Nate Montgomery ’00 is outstanding alumnus

Nov 06, 2015

At its Homecoming celebration this fall, North Central College honored 2000 alumnus Nathan Montgomery, M.D., Ph.D., with an Alumni Recognition Award. Presented annually, the award recognizes potential for success in a career, community service or support of North Central College by younger alumni.

Montgomery, of Durham, N.C., came to North Central College to be part of its national championship running program, but the opportunities in the sciences set the course for his future. He distinguished himself as an exceptional student scientist and researcher and was named the College’s Outstanding Major in Biology in 2000. His interest in genetics was sparked his first year in a cell biology course, taught through the prism of cancer biology, and flourished in his biology professor’s laboratory researching genetics.

Research opportunities in his college lab, he says, “ultimately led me to a Ph.D. program in genetics, which led me into molecular aspects of pathology and what I do today.”

Montgomery mastered an approach to science that served him well as a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. There, he was awarded two prestigious and highly competitive fellowships for further graduate study—the only genetics student in the nation to receive both. He received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Award and a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Permitted to accept only one, he chose the Hughes award, a five-year fellowship valued at $200,000 for students working toward doctoral degrees in the biological sciences.

He quickly became one of the top doctoral students in genetics and molecular biology in the country. At UNC, he won the Sarah Graham Kenan/Edwards-Hobgood Fellowship and also the Sarah Graham Kenan/Edwards-Hobgood Outstanding Graduate Student and Walter L. LaMar Residency Excellence awards.

After continuing his education with a medical degree in 2011, Montgomery spent four years completing a pathology residency. He now serves as a hematopathology fellow at UNC School of Medicine, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He works in the lab to diagnose patients with blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma and researches similar diseases among HIV patients in Africa.

His commitment to a life of service has brought him back to North Central College many times to mentor and speak to students.