David R. Franz, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Former Commander, U.S. Army
Medical Research and Materiel Command
Friday, November 1, 2019 @ 7:30 PM
Missouri-Stephens, Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia
Dr. Franz received his D.V.M. in 1970 from Kansas State University, where he currently has an adjunct professorship, and his Ph.D. in Physiology in 1980 from Baylor College of Medicine. He served in the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command during his 27 years on active duty and served as Commander of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). He was Chief Inspector on three United Nations Special Commission biological warfare inspection missions to Iraq and served as technical advisor on long-term monitoring. He also served as a member of the first two U.S.-U.K. teams that visited Russia in support of the Trilateral Joint Statement on Biological Weapons and as a member of the Trilateral Experts’ Committee for biological weapons negotiations. Dr. Franz was technical editor for the Textbook of Military Medicine on Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare released in 1997. He co-chaired the 2009 NAS report entitled Global Security Engagement: A new model for cooperative threat reduction. The current focus of his activities relates to the role of international engagement in public health and the life sciences as a component of global security policy. He continues to encourage thoughtfulness when regulating research in the name of security, thereby minimizing the negative impact on progress in the life sciences.
50 Years with One Foot in Health and the Other in Security
As students, many of us have a career plan in mind. Dr. Franz left the KSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 1970, certain that he would practice small animal medicine in Hutchinson, Kansas for the rest of his career. Focused on the health of animals and their people, he loved clinical practice. While he began there, he would soon respond to a US Army recruiting poster on the bulletin board of his hometown Post Office. He did continue to practice small animal and equine medicine in the army for a few years before volunteering for Special Forces. There, partially because the Special Forces Group didn’t have a ‘real job’ for a veterinarian, he developed a pack-mule training course for use in unconventional warfare. Those training materials would be used, 15 years later, to teach packers and mules to carry Stinger missiles from Peshawar in Northern Pakistan, over the mountains, to the Mujahedeen, who were then fighting Russian invaders. Next, a chance meeting and friendship struck with a DoD civilian veterinarian, resulted in his being recruited to the Army’s Medical Research and Development Command, the opportunity to obtain a PhD and thus begin a research career in army labs. Initially moving from lab to lab every 3-4 years, Dr. Franz would finally settle at USAMRIID for the last 11 years of a 27-year army career. During that last tour of duty, he would volunteer to serve with the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq and the Department of State in Russia, both activities dealing with state-sponsored offensive biological warfare programs. Those assignments would greatly impact his thinking regarding the value and power of ‘science’ as a common language for dealing with global ‘security’ challenges and, in retirement, provide opportunities to continue work which he calls ‘science diplomacy’. Dr. Franz will describe some of the opportunities he was given and underscore lessons-learned during a career which pivoted on the guidance and support of some four or five wonderful mentors. A career that was enjoyable, rewarding and unplanned.