Alumna tapped as deputy director of national research institute

Hope Austin

Catherine Spong, a UMKC alumna, has been selected as the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Director for The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., announced Spong’s selection Sept. 3.

“After a rigorous national search that attracted an impressive array of outstanding candidates, I am extremely pleased to announce that Catherine Y. Spong, M.D. has been selected as the Deputy Director of NICHD,” Guttmacher said in a press release. “Cathy brings extensive and impressive experience in both our intramural and extramural programs to the position, along with intelligence, interpersonal skills, and visionary leadership that have won her a high level of respect in our research communities.”

Spong attended the six-year baccalaureate/medical program at UMKC from 1985 to 1991.

“I wanted to be a physician because I wanted to help people, and I love research,” Spong said.

Spong did her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. According to Spong, it is relatively uncommon for obstetricians to end up in positions like hers.

As a person who enjoys research, Spong feels at home in her new position.

“I’ve always enjoyed [research],” Spong said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of that.”

Spong enjoys her position, but said she didn’t imagine it as a part of her future. The opportunity to work with the NIHD came shortly after her residency, and she jumped at the chance.

“Though many people recommend having a five year plan, I’ve learned the importance of taking the opportunities that present themselves,” she said.

Because Spong started on a successful path by jumping at an opportunity when it presented itself, she recommends all students to do the same.

“I would encourage anyone to follow their dreams and do what they’re passionate about. If you really want something, it’s possible to do it,” Spong said.