Frank Lilly

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

August 28, 1930 - October 14, 1995


Election Year: 1983
Scientific Discipline: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Member

Frank Lilly revolutionized our understanding of the genetic basis of susceptibility and resistance to leukemia caused by viruses. He genetically identified and analyzed the role of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)—a family of cell surface receptors that mediate interactions with white blood cells—inviral carcinogenesis. Within the MHC, H-2 complex he mapped the first viral susceptibility gene, demonstrating that resistance to leukemia was based on immune response. In 1987 he was appointed to the Presidential Commission on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Epidemic by President Ronald Reagan for his work with hereditary factors that determine susceptibility to cancer causing viruses. 
Lilly graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in pharmacology in 1951 and went on to earn doctorates from the University of Paris in 1959 and Cornell University in 1965. He began his long career at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1965 were he was made the chairman of the department of genetics in 1976. As an active member of the scientific community, he was a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Association for Cancer Research.

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