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Frank honored with FAAAAI Lectureship

Thursday, February 21, 2019
Michael M. Frank, MD

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) Foundation will honor the life’s work of Michael M. Frank, MD, with the creation of the Michael M. Frank, MD FAAAAI Lectureship. Throughout his long career, Dr. Frank has made an important mark on the specialty of allergy and immunology and as an esteemed mentor to many in the field.

Dr. Frank is the Samuel L. Katz Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics in the Duke University School of Medicine, professor of immunology and medicine, and an internationally respected physician-scientist. The research of Dr. Frank's laboratory currently revolves around effector mechanisms of immune damage. Specifically, the laboratory is interested in understanding how antibody and complement contribute to the damage of tissues and micro-organisms. A second area of interest concerns the role of complement and antibody in the pathogenesis of HIV and in prevention of HIV infection, and a third area concerns the role of complement in the generation of an immune response. A long-term interest has been in the clinical signs and appropriate treatment of patients with hereditary angioedema.

Dr. Frank was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He developed an early interest in science and knew he wanted to be a medical researcher before the age of ten. He credits reading Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kraif as a young boy as having inspired an early fascination with the immune system.

Entering the University of Wisconsin at age 15, Dr. Frank developed an interest in infectious diseases through microbial biologist, and subsequent Nobel Prize winner, Joshua Lederberg. He then went on to attend Harvard Medical School and was a house officer in medicine at Harvard and in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medical School. He eventually assumed positions of increasing responsibility in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at the NIH from 1966 to 1990. While there, he focused most of his research efforts on the role of complement in the immune response to infectious diseases and published widely prior to coming to Duke. Elected to membership to many prestigious organizations and societies, including the ASCI and AAP, he was also the recipient of numerous awards, including the European Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his discovery of the cause and treatment of hereditary angioedema, a rare, autosomal dominantly inherited blood disorder.

Dr. Frank was recruited to Duke from his position as the clinical director at NIAID in 1990 to succeed Dr. Samuel L. Katz as the fourth chair of the Department of Pediatrics. Upon arriving at Duke, Dr. Frank encountered numerous financial and personnel challenges, the most pressing of which was a limitation in departmental space to accommodate what he perceived as the need to expand the breadth and depth of clinical expertise. When he arrived, the department had 63 faculty, and during his tenure as chair, he succeeded in expanding the faculty to 125 in addition to leading the construction of the new McGovern-Davison Children’s Health Center to accommodate the outpatient activities of the of the department. In 2004, he stepped down as chair and returned to basic and medical research.

Dr. Frank’s FAAAAI Lectureship will be announced at the upcoming 2019 AAAAI Annual Meeting in San Francisco and presented for the first time at the 2020 AAAI Annual Meeting.

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