Frank Fenner

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Professor Frank Fenner was born on 21 December 1914 in Ballarat, Victoria. His family moved to South Australia in 1916 and he studied Medicine at the University of Adelaide, being awarded Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees in 1938 and a Doctor of Medicine in 1942, and a Diploma of Tropical Medicine from the University of Sydney in 1940.

Between 1940 and 1946 he served as Captain and Major, Australian Army Medical Corps in Australia, Palestine, Egypt, New Guinea and Borneo.

From 1946 to 1948 he was Francis Haley Research Fellow, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, University of Melbourne.

In 1949, he was appointed Professor of Microbiology at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University and was Director of the John Curtin School from 1967 to 1973. In 1973 he was appointed to set up the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at the ANU and held the position of Director until 1979.

Fenner was Chairman of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication, World Health Organization from 1977 to 1980. He was a Fellow and Emeritus Professor working at the ANU well into his retirement.

Fenner was the recipient of many honours and awards particularly for his work on malaria control, the myxoma virus and smallpox eradication. He was a 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), and was awarded the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Medal (1980), the World Health Organization Medal (1988), the Japan Prize (1988), the Copley Medal, Royal Society of London (1995), the Albert Einstein World Award for Science (2000), and the Prime Minister's Prize for Science (2002).

Apart from his many publications on medical virology and microbiology, Fenner wrote histories of the John Curtin School of Medical Research and the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies. He died in Canberra on 22 November 2010.


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