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In Memoriam: Dr. Marion "Dave" David Francis

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We are sad to announce that ASBMR member Dr. Marion David Francis passed away on May 10, 2016, a day after his 93rd birthday.


Dr. Francis was born in Vancouver, Canada and gained his BSc and MSc degrees in physics and chemistry at the University of British Columbia, followed by a PhD at the University of Iowa. In 1952, he joined the Procter and Gamble Company (P&G) in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA where he spent the rest of his professional career, publishing over 100 papers and 35 patents. He remained actively engaged in laboratory science until his retirement in 1993.


He made major scientific discoveries in the dental and medical fields that have endured to the present day. His basic research on the chemistry of tooth enamel and dentine helped to lay the scientific foundation for the effective use of fluoride to prevent cavities. Fluoride-containing toothpastes continue to be used more than 50 years later.


The extension of his work to controlling the formation of hydroxyapatite, with a view to preventing dental calculus and plaque, led to an interest in phosphonates as stable chemical analogues to influence these processes, as had previously been shown for pyrophosphate.


This work led to the collaboration with Herbert Fleisch and Graham Russell that resulted in the first recognition of the important biological effects of the chemically stable bisphosphonates (then called diphosphonates) in the prevention of calcification and especially bone resorption. Dr. Francis played an important role in enabling the early clinical use of bisphosphonates, and derived great pleasure from their success.


Dr. Francis’s third long-lasting contribution to medicine was to pioneer the development of radiolabeled bisphosphonates to detect abnormal metabolic bone activity. The use of 99mTc-labelled bisphosphonates was first commercialized at P&G and these imaging agents continue to be used today.


His inventions improved the lives of millions of people around the world. For these significant achievements, Dr. Francis received several honors, including the Perkin Medal and "Hero of Chemistry" award from the American Chemical Society, and election to the prestigious Victor Mills Society at P&G.


Please join us in recognizing Dr. Francis’s contribution to our field by leaving a note, sharing a memory, or contributing a donation in his honor.

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