Dr. Prendergast received his medical degree with honors from the University of the West Indies in 1968 and after an internship attended Lincoln College, University of Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar where he obtained a BA with First Class Honors in 1971 and MA in 1979. He commenced a residency in Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in 1971 and subsequently obtained a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the joint Mayo Graduate School / University of Minnesota program in 1977.
Dr. Prendergast was appointed to the Faculty of the Department of Pharmacology at the Mayo Graduate School immediately after receiving his Ph.D. and rose through the ranks quickly to become a full Professor simultaneously in that Department and in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1986. That same year, he was named the Edmond and Marion Guggenheim Professor and also Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Dr. Prendergast was appointed as the Director for Research of Mayo Clinic, Rochester in 1989, serving for the subsequent four years in that capacity. In 1990, he was also appointed to Mayo's highest administrative committees, the Board of Governors and the Mayo Foundation's Board of Trustees. He served on these bodies continuously until 2009. In 1995, he was appointed as Director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, a position he held until September 2006. His last administrative role at Mayo was as the charter Director of the Mayo Center for Individualized Medicine. He retired from that position and also from the Mayo Foundation in December 2014.
Throughout his academic career, Dr. Prendergast participated extensively in numerous NIH and NSF grant review groups, task forces and advisory committees. Additionally, he was appointed as a non-executive member of the Board of Directors of Eli Lilly and Co., a post he held from 1995 until 2017. He has been awarded several honors, including honorary doctorates from Purdue University and the University of the West Indies, Distinguished Alumni awards from the University of the West Indies, University of Minnesota and, most recently, in 2019 the Mayo Clinic.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Prendergast has served on the Board of Directors or Scientific Advisory Board of several biotechnology companies.