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DR. THOMAS FRANCIS, JR., Professor of Epidemiology and Chairman of his Department at the University School of Public Health since 1941, has been named winner of a 1947 Lasker Award from the American Public Health Association for his development of an influenza vaccine. He is one of five persons and three Government agencies who will be recipients of the awards for "significant contributions in the fight for health" at the APHA meeting in Atlantic City on October 9.

One thousand dollars and a gold statuette of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, symbolizing the defeat of death and disease, will be given Dr. Francis.

Due largely to his work, the disease that killed more Americans than did bullets in the first World War, was kept to a very small minimum during the last war. As director of the Army Commission on Influenza, Dr. Francis headed studies in all war theaters, which resulted in an effective vaccine for the two types of the disease.

Before the war, Dr. Francis had a leading part in the discovery and isolation of both virus A and B. Type A was isolated for the first time in the Western Hemisphere in 1934 at Rockefeller Institute, where he was a member, and Type B was discovered under his direction in the New York University bacteriological laboratory which he headed from 1938 to 1941.

Two years ago, with the knowledge of Dr. Francis and aided by research gained between the two world wars, the Army injected the flu vaccine into all its personnel, and as a result, Type A flu was reduced to one-fourth that in other branches of the service which had not used the vaccine, and Type B was reduced to one-tenth.

The Michigan Alumnus

October 4, 1947, Page 6

Thomas Francis was an American physician, virologist, and epidemiologist. Francis was the first person to isolate influenza virus in America, and in 1940 showed that there are other strains of influenza, and took part in the development of influenza vaccines.

Francis grew up in New Castle in western Pennsylvania, graduated from New Castle High School in 1917 and Allegheny College on scholarship in 1921, and received his medical degree from Yale University in 1925. Afterwards he joined an elite research team at the Rockefeller Institute, first doing research on vaccines against bacterial pneumonia, later he took up influenza research. He became the first American to isolate human flu virus. From 1938 to 1941 he was professor of bacteriology and chair of the department of the New York University College of Medicine.

In 1941 he was appointed director of the Commission on Influenza of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board (AFEB), a position which enabled him to take part in the successful development, field trial, and evaluation of protective influenza vaccines. Later that year Francis received an invitation from Henry F. Vaughan to join the newly established School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

At the University of Michigan, Francis established a virus laboratory and a Department of Epidemiology that dealt with a broad range of infectious diseases. When Jonas Salk came to the University of Michigan in 1941 to pursue postgraduate work in virology, Francis was his teacher and taught him the methodology of vaccine development. Salk’s work at Michigan ultimately led to his polio vaccine.

In 1947 Francis was awarded one of the first Michigan distinguished professorships, the Henry Sewall University Professor of Epidemiology. In addition to his work at the School of Public Health, Francis joined the pediatrics faculty at the University’s Medical School.

As director of the University of Michigan Poliomyelitis Vaccine Evaluation Center, Francis designed and led an unprecedented $17.5 million nationwide field trial to test the vaccine. Conducted by a staff of more than 100 people from the University of Michigan, the year-long trial involved 1.8 million children in the U.S., Canada, and Finland and an enormous network of community volunteers. The results of the study were announced in Rackham Auditorium of the University of Michigan on April 12, 1955, and signaled an era of hope and success in combating infectious diseases and, more broadly, in the development of large-scale efforts for the good of society.

Quotation (Francis on his work): Epidemiology must constantly seek imaginative and ingenious teachers and scholars to create a new genre of medical ecologists who, with both the fine sensitivity of the scientific artist, and the broad perception of the community sculptor, can interpret the interplay of forces which result in disease."

Thomas Francis, Jr.