Michael R. Nathan

Michael R. Nathan, MD

Michael R. Nathan, MD, was born in Chicago in 1947. The only child of Eastern European immigrants, he moved to the metropolitan Washington, DC area at age 2 and attended local schools, graduating from high school in 1965. Dr. Nathan was an undergraduate at Duke University where he was a student leader active in supporting university workers and in organizing against the Vietnam War. During this time, he also became interested in international health, spending time on a health project in Bolivia. He went on to attend medical school at Duke, graduating in 1973. While there, he continued his interest in international health, twice traveling to Guatemala to work. He also helped organize support for improved health conditions in area textile mills, spearheaded support for hospital workers, and worked in a variety of community health projects. Following his graduation, Dr. Nathan trained at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, and finished his residency in pediatrics back at Duke. He then took a fellowship in behavioral pediatrics at the University of Virginia.
In 1978, he returned to Durham, NC, to become Chief of Pediatrics at Lincoln Community Health Center. During the next year, he became an important leader in community health issues. His long-standing interest in international health continued as he organized efforts to provide medical supplies to Zimbabwe.
On November 3, 1979, while attending a meeting protesting the presence and influence of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party in North Carolina, he was shot and killed. Four others died alongside him. A number of people were wounded.
A memorial fund honoring his work in community health, occupational medicine, and international health was established by the Duke University School of Medicine Class of 1973.
Proceeds from this fund support an award to a deserving third-year medical student who undertakes a project in community health, occupational health, or international health. A portion of the award (up to 50 percent) can be used to offset tuition expenses and the rest will be used for travel and project expenses. The award is made annually on a competitive basis with the awardee chosen by an advisory board made up of members of the Class of 1973, members of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and Marty Nathan, MD, Class of 1977, Dr. Nathan’s widow. Projects carried on under the award will be supervised by the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.