It is with great sadness that I report the death of one of my science heroes, Frank Fenner. One of the key people involved in the eradication of smallpox, he was also a prolific researcher in poxvivrology, and discoverer of the virus I study, ectromelia virus. Although I never met him, I have read many of his papers and they have influenced my own research and interests.
Here is the text of the email I received this morning, from Julio Lincio:
“Frank John Fenner AC, CMG, MBE, FRS, FAA (born 21 December 1914,died 22 November 2010) was an Australian scientist with a distinguished career in the field of virology. His two greatest achievements are cited as overseeing the eradication of smallpox during his term as Chairman of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication, and the control of Australia’s rabbit plague through the introduction of myxoma virus.
Professor Fenner was Director of the John Curtin School from 1967 to 1973. During this time he was also Chairman of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication. In 1973 Professor Fenner was appointed to set up the new Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at the Australian National University (ANU). He held the position of Director until 1979.
Professor Fenner has been elected a fellow of numerous faculties and academies, including Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1954), Fellow of the Royal Society (1958), and Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences (1977).
During his career Professor Fenner received many awards. Among these are the Britannica Australia Award for Medicine (1967), the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Medal (1980), the World Health Organization Medal (1988), the Japan Prize (1988), the Senior Australian Achiever of the Year (1999), the Albert Einstein World Award for Science (2000), and the Prime Minister’s Science Prize (2002).
A man of decisive scientific action and strong opinions, Professor
Fenner’s last interview with The Australian is extremely thought provoking and can be found here
A summary of Frank’s remarkable career can be found here”