AAI In Memoriam

Frank W. Fitch

AAI extends sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Frank W. Fitch, M.D., Ph.D., DFAAI (AAI ’61), who died peacefully on April 2 at the age of 91.

Dr. Fitch served as AAI President from 1992 to 1993 and was on the AAI Council from 1987 to 1994. Following this service, he was chair of the AAI Publications Committee and then served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Immunology from 1997 to 2002. Dr. Fitch also served as the 1993–1994 president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and as a FASEB board member from 1991 to 1994.

A native of Illinois, Dr. Fitch received his M.D. (1953) and Ph.D. (1960) from the University of Chicago School of Medicine. He was then invited to join the faculty there, where he remained for over 40 years. He was dedicated to the future generations of physicians and researchers, and he trained many Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows, a number of whom went on to illustrious careers in immunology. He was an accomplished experimentalist and, among other important research findings, he is noted for his seminal research elucidating the role of “T Cell Growth Factor (TCGF),” or IL2, in the clonal expansion of antigen-specific T cells in vitro.

Dr. Fitch was named the Albert D. Lasker Professor of Medical Science and served as the director of the Ben May Cancer Institute at the University of Chicago School of Medicine from 1986 to 1995. He was the recipient of the Norman McLean Faculty Award from the University of Chicago, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, a Borden Undergraduate Research Award recipient, and a Lederle Medical Faculty Award recipient. A special lectureship was established in 2014 in the name of Dr. Fitch and his beloved wife, Shirley, at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Fitch’s exemplary career was honored by AAI with the Lifetime Achievement Award (1996), a Distinguished Service Award (2002), and the Excellence in Mentoring Award (2004). Named an inaugural Distinguished Fellow of AAI (DFAAI) in 2019, he remained a regular member of AAI until his passing.

A more detailed tribute to Dr. Fitch’s many scientific and leadership contributions to the field will be forthcoming, but we direct you to his interview in 2012 for the AAI Oral History Project as well as to the obituary published by the family.

Memorial donations may be made to:

The Frank W. and Shirley D. Fitch Lectureship
c/o University of Chicago Gift Administration and Business Data
Frank Fitch Memorial
5235 S. Harper Court, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60615
Check payable to: “The University of Chicago,” and write “Fitch Lectureship” in the memo line
Donate online at https://bit.ly/3dzyKWd.

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