Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Sir Frank Fenner, Medical Researcher, prophet of doom

A friend sent a clip from the Telegraph obituary of Sir Frank Fenner.  My comments in a following post.
[photo: Telegraph]

 Fenner went on to serve as director of the [John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University, my alma mater] from 1967 to 1973 but his later research in virology took him also into epidemiology and population dynamics and sparked a new interest in human impact on the environment.
In 1973 he set up the Australian National University's Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, which he headed until his retirement in 1979. 
Fenner's studies made him increasingly pessimistic about the future. 
Earlier this year he predicted that, as a result of the population explosion, ''unbridled consumption'' and international failure to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Homo sapiens ''will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years''. 
''Whatever we do now is too late,'' he said. 
Fenner, who published hundreds of papers and wrote or co-wrote 22 books, was a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and of the Royal Society. 
He received many awards and honours, including the Japan Prize in 1988 for his work on the eradication of smallpox; the Albert Einstein World Award for Science in 2000; and the Prime Minister's Science Prize in 2002. 
He was appointed CMG in 1976 and Companion of the Order of Australia in 1989. 
Frank Fenner married, in 1944, Ellen ''Bobby'' Roberts, who had served with him as a nurse during the war. 
She died in 1995 and he is survived by their daughter.