STIs

Canada and the world have lost a great medical researcher, and a remarkable man. In my life – and I’ve had a long one – I’ve met only a handful of people I admired as much as I did Frank Plummer. This is my tribute to him.

By Joan Baxter

February 6, 2020. When I heard this week that Dr. Frank Plummer had died, the loss hit hard, although I hadn’t seen him in two decades and knew him for only a couple of years when my family and I were living in Kenya.

That Frank had died suddenly while in Nairobi to deliver a keynote speech at the annual meeting at the collaborative centre for research and training in HIV/AIDS/STIs at the University of Nairobi – his old stomping grounds – made his passing somehow even more poignant.

Screenshot of the University of Manitoba web page in tribute to Dr. Frank Plummer, an alumnus and a U of M Distinguished Professor of medical microbiology, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former Canada Research Chair in Resistance and Susceptibility to Infections.

It was in Nairobi in the mid-1990s that I met Frank, a fellow Canadian. Through our kids and mutual friends, we met the Plummer family, and would get together at parties or for weekend outings in the Kenyan countryside.

At first, I had no idea  how renowned he and his work were, although he had been in Nairobi for more than a decade doing research on HIV/AIDS. It was through our mutual friends – not Frank himself – that I learned just who he was, a globally and highly respected microbiologist whose work had made world headlines in 1993.

At the time, I was working as a science writer for an international research organization headquartered in the Kenyan capital, and was eager for some writing projects that involved more creativity than did the mostly technical reports and academic articles that took up my working days.

Then one day in 1995, Frank asked me if I would consider writing a book about him and his work on HIV/AIDS. He said a European publisher had approached him and asked if he would be willing to pen an autobiography. He told me he wasn’t interested in doing that. Not then. He was too busy. Continue reading Remembering Dr. Frank Plummer

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