Helping Heal

Diagnosed with cancer as teenager, North Dakota native earns biology degree, seeks to become a doctor

Jacob Greenmyer’s career aspirations came from his own personal tragedy.

After being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer as a teenager, Greenmyer is now a medical student in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“I was influenced by the great staff, doctors and everyone that helped me through that time,” he said.


Visiting the doctor unfortunately was commonplace for Greenmyer growing up. As an 8 year old, Greenmyer was diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency, a disorder marked by recurrent infections. Then as high school freshman, he spent 13 months with chest pain, pneumonia and other symptoms.

Jacob Greenmyer in Med School training lab

 After graduating from UND in 2016, Greenmyer is currently working to become a doctor.

In addition to battling those health conditions that year, doctors broke the toughest news yet. Greenmyer was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, called mucoepidermoid carcinoma.

He lost half of his left lung to the disease, but he’s happy to report now that he’s cancer free.

During those health setbacks, he saw firsthand the impact his doctors had on his life, which led to him pursuing a medical degree.

“I owe it to them, and my family, to try and do something with this opportunity,” he said. “I was influenced along the way by a lot of great people to get into the medical field.”

The Stirum, N.D. native, received his undergraduate degree in biology from UND. He also was a UND and Me scholarship winner, an annual $10,000 scholarship provided by the Minnesota Vikings to UND.

Has also served on the board for the Global Friends Coalition, which helps New Americans integrate into the Grand Forks community.