Franklin A. Neva, MD, a renowned virologist, parasitologist, clinician, and former chief of the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, died on October 15, 2011. He was 89 years old.
Neva began his research career in 1947, studying typhoid fever and schistosomiasis at Naval Medical Research Unit-3 in Cairo. He then spent three years at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., where he first described Boston exanthem disease, an echovirus infection in children characterized by mild fever and widespread rash. After an academic appointment in the laboratory of Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh, Neva returned to Harvard to work in the newly created Department of Tropical Public Health. In 1962 he and Thomas Weller co-discovered rubella virus, the cause of German measles. An independent group at the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research, Washington, D.C., also isolated the virus around the same time.
Neva also established a clinical service for parasitic infections at NIH, which treats patients from developing countries as well as U.S. citizens whose cases are of scientific interest. He mentored many LPD trainees who subsequently rose to leadership positions in universities, government agencies and international health organizations.
Among his many honors, Neva was the first member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) to receive its Ben Kean Medal, an award that recognized his dedication to clinical tropical medicine and his impact on the training of students, fellows and practitioners of tropical medicine. He also received the ASTMH Donald Mackay Medal, a highly selective recognition for outstanding work in tropical health relating to improvements in the health of rural or urban workers in the tropics; the ASTMH Bailey K. Ashford Medal for distinguished work in tropical medicine early in his career; the Joseph E. Smadel Lectureship from the Infectious Diseases Society of America; and the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award for his exemplary leadership and public service.