Thomas Francis, Jr. Public Health Building


Thomas Francis, Jr. Public Health Building


Planning for the Thomas Francis Jr. Public Health Building at 1420 Washington Heights began in July of 1964 when Albert Kahn Associates were employed for architectural services. A project budget of approximately $7,000,000 was approved in June of 1966. With two federal grants, a gift from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation of $2,500,000, and funds from University sources, the final cost of $7,240,000 was realized when the building was completed by the Sorenson Gross Company in September of 1971. The seven-story structure included 169,597 gross square feet and was designed to connect to the original building via a pedestrian walkway at the third level. The new facility provided consolidation within the School of activities previously scattered in 13 different locations. Acting on the recommendation of the Dean and faculty of the School, the Regents at their October 1971 meeting approved naming this new addition the Thomas Francis, Jr. Public Health Building to honor the late renowned epidemiologist, who had served the School as Professor of Epidemiology from 1941 to 1968.

The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer>Physical Properties>Buildings, p. 63) 

Dr. Hatcher, Dr. Francis, Dr. Salk, Basil O'Connor

Dr. Thomas Francis Jr. was a physician, virologist, and epidemiologist.  He was the first person to isolate influenza virus in America, and in 1940 showed that there were other strains of influenza.  He was involved in the development of vaccines for influenza. 

In 1941, Dr. Francis came to the University of Michigan to join the newly established School of Public Health. He is credited with building a Department of Epidemiology that focused on a broad range of infectious diseases.  Jonas Salk came to the University of Michigan in 1941 to do postgraduate work in virology.  Francis taught him the methodology of vaccine development.  Salk’s work at Michigan resulted in his polio vaccine.  The field test of the Salk vaccine was directed by Francis, in what was the largest mass experiment in medicine ever undertake. 

(For more information go to: www.polio.umich.edu/history/francis.html)