William Frankland


Immunologist William Frankland has died after a very long life, aged 108. He had already cheated death from TB as a Prisoner of War when he began studying under the tutelage of Alexander Fleming. It was during this time Frankland made his early mark on British medical history, organising a placebo test to disprove the long held theory that antihistamines could control asthma. Keen on pollen related allergies, he helped popularised the pollen count to keep track of the allergens in the air. He introduced control methods to allergy testing and changed the way immunotherapy was undergone. He also undertook insect bites to see if you could grow immune to allergies, and nearly died from anaphylactic shock. Not bored with these brushes with death, he later told Saddam Hussein to give up smoking, and lived to tell the tale. 

In theory, he retired in 1977, aged 65. In reality, he was called on for his expertise for the next 40 years, as expert witnesses in trials, for his knowledge of allergens (including in the battle to come up with preventatives for extreme nut allergies), and he continued to write papers. Even in his 108th year and confined to the Charterhouse Infirmary for end of life care, he wrote and gave interviews. A few weeks before his death, he celebrated his 108th birthday and was asked in interviews if he knew much of coronavirus. He was not a virologist, he noted, although he likely knew as he spoke what the future held. Indeed, coronavirus has done what Spanish Flu, Hitler, TB, Saddam Hussein and insect bites couldn’t do.

His twin brother was a missionary in Sierra Leone who died in 1995. Odd that the two most common 1912 DDP picks left standing were both the surviving half of twins. (With a tip of the hat to TJS for that one…)

His expertise certainly helped this hayfever sufferer.

He was picked by 4 teams including theme team legends Gray Panthers and Brown Bananas.

William Frankland
19 March 1912 – 2 April 2020
4 teams