Thomas Francis Jr., circa late 1950s. Photograph by Fabian Bachrach
Thomas Francis Jr. (1900 – 1969) was an American physician, virologist, and epidemiologist. Francis was the first person to isolate influenza virus in the United States, and in 1940 showed that there are other strains of influenza, and took part in the development of influenza vaccine.
Thomas Francis, Jr. graduated from Allegheny College in 1921 and received the MD from Yale University in 1925. In 1928 he joined the Rockefeller Institute. Between 1935 and 1941, he served as professor of bacteriology and chair of the department at the New York University College of Medicine. In 1941 he joined the newly established School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, where he remained for the rest of his career. Francis is credited with being the first in the US to isolate the influenza virus, in 1935, and with developing the first killed-virus flu vaccine. He is also remembered for designing, supervising, and evaluating the 1950s field trials of the polio vaccine developed by his protege, Jonas Salk. Among many awards and honors, Francis received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (1946) and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2005, the University of Michigan established the Thomas Francis, Jr. Medal in Global Public Health.
Years at the Rockefeller Institute: 1928-1935
Thomas Francis, Jr., influenza vaccines, RIMR