VIROLOGY DIVISION NEWS
In Memoriam: Frank John Fenner (1914-2010)
Frederick A. Murphy
Received: 15 December 2010 / Accepted: 17 December 2010 / Published online: 8 January 2011
Ó Springer-Verlag 2011
Frank Fenner, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Canberra, at
the bench, inoculating embryonating eggs with myxoma virus, 1950.
(photo from the John Curtin School of Medical Research, used with
Frank John Fenner AC, CMG, MBE, FRS, FAA, MD,
DTM, one of the world’s most distinguished virologists
and a dear friend of many colleagues around the world,
died in Canberra on November 22, 2010, at age 95. This In
Memoriam must be different from those usually published
here—after all, quite detailed pieces are anticipated from
the Australian Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society,
et al., and Frank had published a comprehensive
autobiography . Hence, there is opportunity here to
present a condensed biography, and then more personal
memories, hoping to provide more of a sense of the man,
the colleague, the friend of so many members of the global
virology community. This seems to ﬁt in with the closing
paragraphs of Frank’s autobiography, his reﬂections on
friendship and special friends.
Frank was born in Ballarat, Victoria, but the family
moved to Adelaide, South Australia when he was two years
old. He completed his undergraduate studies in science
(1938) and medicine (1942) at the University of Adelaide.
From 1940-1946 he served as an ofﬁcer (Captain, Major) in
the Australian Army Medical Corps with service in Aus-
tralia, Palestine, Egypt, New Guinea, and Borneo—at
various times he performed as a medical ofﬁcer in a ﬁeld
ambulance and casualty clearing station, a pathologist in a
general hospital, and most prominently as a malariologist.
For his work in combating malaria in Papua New Guinea
he was made a Member of The Order of the British Empire.
As Frank noted later, the highlight of his military service was
meeting and marrying a nurse—his wonderful wife, Ellen,
known to all as Bobbie. Bobbie died in 1995, but ever after
Frank said that his marriage was the most important part of his
life. Frank is survived by his daughter, Marilyn, grandson,
Simon, granddaughter Sally and great-grandson, Jasper.
Following his war-time service Frank was recruited to
work at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical
Research in Melbourne by Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet.
Initially they worked on ectromelia virus infection in mice
(to explain his work, Frank coined the term ‘‘mousepox’’).
In 1949 he received a fellowship to study at the Rockefeller
Institute for Medical Research in New York City, where he
worked in the laboratory of Rene
Dubos; while Dubos
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the world’s community of
F. A. Murphy (&)
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA
Arch Virol (2011) 156:363–367