"PROFESSOR of social and preventative medicine Frank Donal Schofield was born on November 1, 1921, in London and died on February 5, 2011, in Brisbane.
AN ESTIMATED 40 million children around the world are thought to have been saved by the genius of one man, former Brisbane professor of public and preventative health Frank Schofield.
He was also a part of the push to improve child immunisation rates and as such became indirectly responsible for saving up to five million children a year from preventable diseases. One of the greats in the history of modern medical research, he came to prominence in Papua New Guinea where he left a rare legacy.
While based at Maprik, in East Sepik Province, after World War II he demonstrated that by immunising pregnant women with tetanus toxoid their newborn babies could be protected from tetanus.
This form of tetanus infection was once common and resulted from contamination of the baby's umbilical cord when dirty knives or bamboo slivers were used to cut it, or when dirt or ash was rubbed into the cord stump.
This measure, which was published in the British Medical Journal in 1961, soon became incorporated into the international program of immunisation and these days is believed to save up to two million newborns every year according to one estimate (and 40 million, to date) as well as saving some 20,000 to 40,000 women from puerperal tetanus.
Born in England in 1921, he graduated in medicine before being commissioned in 1944 by the British army and serving as a regimental medical officer in Greece, Egypt and Palestine.
Immediately after the war he worked as an army medical specialist, from 1945 until 1948.
After working in medical research in east and west Africa, still with the Royal Army Medical Corps, he found his niche in tropical medicine.
Following stints at St Thomas's and University College hospitals in London, he joined the staff of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a job which led to his move to PNG in 1958 as assistant director (medical research) in the young nation's public health department.
He stayed there until 1964, when he took up a position as professor of public health with the World Health Organisation in Ethiopia, and then later in Kenya.
By 1973 the WHO work had taken him to its headquarters in Geneva, where he was the inaugural head of its expanded program on immunisation.
This was his life's greatest achievement and the program was one of the most profound steps forward in human health.
When Professor Schofield began less than 5 per cent of the world's children were routinely immunised against the worst infectious diseases. These days, that figure is over 80 per cent and much higher in countries such as India.
He held many consultancies in several developing countries, and with the WHO and other international organisations, in the areas of immunisation, primary health care and medical education.
He rounded off a remarkable career at the University of Queensland.
There, he established its tropical health program, the forerunner of what is now the university's Australian Centre for International Health and Tropical Medicine.
Outside his life-saving work, Professor Schofield was a man inspired by the wonders of nature.
A naturalist, one of the things he most enjoyed about working in so many remote countries was observing the wildlife to be found in abundance in their jungles, steppes, savannahs and deserts.
He was never happier than when camping with his family in some far-flung corner of Africa or Australia.
Despite his immense achievements, he was also a humble man who sought neither wealth nor fame. In his eulogy, Professor Schofield's son Louis summarised his father's life thus:
"He loved nature, he loved his work, he loved his family, and he loved life."
Professor Schofield is survived by his wife Loran June and the couple's three sons and five grandchildren."