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Professor Frank Fenner
Transcript of Professor Frank Fenner
By Radhe Parasram
The Family life of Frank Johannes Fenner
Frank Johannes Fenner was born on the 21 December 1914 in Ballarat, Victoria.
Thomas Richard, Charles Lyell, Albert Edward (Father), Winifred Joyce, Peggy (Mother), Frank Johannes(himself) and William Greenock.
The Fenner family (1934)
The Personal life of Frank Johannes Fenner
Frank's personal life was very simple. In 1940 Fenner met Bobbie Roberts. Ellen Margaret 'Bobbie' Roberts was a trained midwife and nurse. During World War II she worked on malaria, a mosquito-borne disease, with the Australian Army Nursing Service and through her work met Frank. Shortly after they met they married in a Catholic ceremony, even though Frank was an atheist.
While keen to have children, they couldn't, so in 1949 they decided to adopt. They adopted two children. Marilyn Aldus Fenner was born on 27th June 1950. Her real parents were unknown. Victoria Fenner, born 1st of March, 1943, was adopted later at the request of her biological father, who was Frank 's younger brother, Thomas, after the death in a fire of Victoria's mother, Beverley Slaney. So Victoria was adopted because of that.
On 30 March 1958, Victoria Fenner, shot and killed herself, with the help of another child, Catherine Webb. She had been passing through a period of extreme mental and spiritual disturbance and the coroner/inspector declared her death a suicide.
Frank, his Father and Mother, Albert and Peggy, and siblings, Charles and Winifred, moved from Ballarat to Adelaide in 1916, when Frank was 2 years old. Thomas and William were born there.
Frank’s family life was very happy, even though much of it happened during the Great Depression. The children loved Peggy and she was very supportive of their father at home. Peggy was helped in the house from time to time by her unmarried sisters, especially Christina, who came over from Ballarat and lived with them for months at a time. Another Aunt, Anna, died in their house in 1927. For all of the children, it was their first experience of death.
Frank's father was a geologist and an award winning scientist who worked as an educational manager (Superintendent of Technical Education and Director of Education in South Australia). He also set up a geography course at the University of Adelaide in his spare time, and for 25 years wrote a fortnightly column on science for The Australasian (which is an old newspaper).
Frank attended Rose Park Primary School and Thebarton Technical School. He completed his undergraduate studies in Science (1938) and Medicine (1942) at the University of Adelaide.
The Career of Frank Johannes Fenner
Frank's career/interest was virology.
•Frank Fenner served in the Australian army for over five years, including as a malariologist (expert malaria) in Papua New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies.
•1946 - Worked with Sir Macfarlane Burnet at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and discovered that mouse pox was a good laboratory model for smallpox.
•1948 - Overseas Friendship with Rene Dubos at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, where he met many great scientists.
•1949 - Stated Foundation Professor of Microbiology (science which deals with microorganisms) in John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU (Australian national university).
•1967 - Became Director of John Curtin School of Medical Research.
•1973 - Director, the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, (CRES) at the ANU (Australian National University).
•1979 - Retired.
The Highlights of Frank Johannes Fenner's Career
Professor Frank's outstanding career as a scientist has been made by many achievements. Mainly the Eradication of smallpox, which came from Africa and Europe, and control of Australia's Rabbit plague, Myxomatosis. He also said the human race will be over in 100 years.
•Qualified for: AC, CMG, MBE, FAA, FRS, FRACP, and FRCP.
•Outstanding career known by three honoured awards for lifetime contributions to science:
o Copley medal of the Royal Society (1995)
o Albert Einstein World Award for Science ( 2000)
o Clunies Ross Lifetime Contribution National Science and Technology Award (2002)
•Most known award: the Japan Prize in 1988, with D.A. Henderson and I. Arita, for the great contribution that they made to the global eradication (destruction) of smallpox.
•Wrote his first scientific paper in 1935, has written 300 papers since.
•Written 11 books, edited three.
•Working with the scientists of CSIRO, his laboratory work on myxomatosis (myxo for short), which is a skin disease, from 1951 to 1965, gave a basis for the effective use of this disease for natural control of the rabbit - Australia's worst agricultural pest.
•From 1969 -1980 his knowledge of pox viruses was important in demonstrating that there was no animal supply of smallpox virus, so leading eventually to the eradication of smallpox.
•He was the Chairman of the important Global Committee for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication.
•Worked with and was influenced by Dubos, at the Rockefeller Institute, who invented the phrase "think globally, act locally".
•Frank Fenner's strong interest in the environment led to him becoming founding Director of the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, (CRES) at the ANU.
Frank at the age of twelve
smallpox and other diseases in Aboriginal Australia 1780-1880
By Judy Campbell
That's all folks! Hope you enjoyed!
Bobbie Fenner was diagnosed with cancer in 1989 and eventually died in 1994. His daughter, Marilyn Fenner and her family then moved into the family home and looked after Frank until his death on the 22 November 2010(aged 95), in Canberra, NSW.