Frank Odds passed away on 7 July at the age of 75. He was well-known to regular readers of this blog. Having started to submit his views in 2014, he has contributed well over 1 500 insightful and helpful comments.

Prof Odds was a world leading expert in medical mycology, recognized internationally for his studies of fungal pathogens.  He was recognized as an authority by academics, clinicians and those in the pharmaceutical industry. The European Confederation of Mycology wrote:

He wrote the defining text on Candida and was a major authority on fungal pathogenesis and antifungal drugs (having led Janssen’s antifungal drug discovery programme for 10 years). In no small measure he helped establish the reputation of the Aberdeen Fungal Group as a pre-eminent presence in medical mycology and was an integral part of the foundations upon which the current University of Exeter MRC-CMM was formed. He was a concert level pianist and he played the piano for the singsong at the BSMM annual meeting that was an integral part of the traditions of this society. During his career he acted as President of the BSMM, as well as of ISHAM and the ECMM.

Prof Odds has published about 300 original research and review articles on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, epidemiology and treatment of fungal infections.  He acted as co-editor of the standard textbook ‘Clinical Mycology’ and was listed in the ISI Most Highly Cited Scientists (Microbiology) database in 2007 and he made many seminal contributions to his field.

Prof Odds led the antifungal drug discovery programme as Director of Bacteriology and Mycology at the Janssen Research Foundation (Johnson & Johnson) in Belgium for 10 years.  He played a major role in the development of anti-fungal medicines azole and triazole.  Eighteen patents bear Prof. Odds’ name as co-inventor and he served as a consultant and/or experimental contractor for more than 20 pharmaceutical companies.

Born on 29th August 1945 in Devon and educated in the South West of England.  He undertook undergraduate and PhD degrees at the University of Leeds and became a visiting Fellow at the Center for Disease Control, in Atlanta USA (1970–72) before returning to the UK to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Leeds (1972–75).  He became a lecturer and then senior lecturer in Medical Microbiology at the University of Leicester (1975–89).  In 1992 he accepted the post of Director of Bacteriology & Mycology at the Janssen Research Foundation, Beerse, Belgium (1992–99), and in 1999 he became Professor of Medical Mycology in the Aberdeen Fungal Group of the University of Aberdeen.  He retired in 2009.

Prof Odds served as President of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology, President of the European Confederation of Medical Mycology, Honorary Secretary and President of the British Society for Medical Mycology, and Chair of the Medical Mycology Division F of the American Society for Microbiology.  He was co-chair and chair of the Wellcome Trust Immunology and Infectious Disease grant panel and on numerous editorial boards of international journals including acting as Chief Editor of Current Topics in Medical Mycology.

Prof Odd’s honours included Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellowship of the American Academy of Microbiology, and Honorary Membership of the British and International Medical Mycology societies.  He received many prestigious prizes including an ISHAM award and medal, the Maxwell L. Littman Award from the New York Medical Mycology Society, and a Pfizer Award in Biology.  He was also awarded an MRCPath and FRCPath in recognition of his clinical expertise.

On 9 July, Frank’s wife sent me an email:

The sad news has arrived: Frank died on Tuesday night, peacefully at home as he had wished.

During the final few days, his health deteriorated rapidly, but he was extremely well cared for by the NHS District Nurses, who could not have been kinder or more solicitous…

I feel honoured by the indefatigable attention he devoted to my blog (particularly since I had never met him in person) and am sure that we all will all miss his critical and constructive comments.

8 Responses to Frank Odds (1945-2020)

  • It’s always a shock when someone we have come to regard as a colleague, and as it turns out a contemporary (to me at least) is lost to the rational and sceptical community. It makes me realise how much I have to do in the time I have left.

  • Rest in Peace, Mr. Odds.

    I always found his comments to be focused and full of scientific knowledge.

  • I endorse these sentiments.

    I much enjoyed Frank’s insightful and stimulating contributions which, I am sure, impacted on his wide circles of interest.
    A true scientist.

  • Very sad news.
    Although it was obvious from his comments on this blog that he was a person with a deep medical and scientific knowledge, I was not aware of the full extent of his expertise and credentials.
    My condolences to his family and friends.

  • I was always curious to see his photograph as once he scolded me for keeping faux secrecy.
    Just recently he was joking about India’s cow worship and river Ganga. Just shocked to hear this news and he will not be there to comment on this blog. Rest in Peace.

  • Several years ago, Frank took contact when he was on his way over here for a short visit with his wife. He did not fancy accompanying her on some hike-tour so he had some free time without her. I took him sightseeing for half a day and we had a very good and giving talk about our common interests during the trip and an extended lunch. Naturally we discussed professor Ernst’s blog but we also found many other common interests besides the promotion of scientific rationalism. We never managed to meet again in person, partly because he was diagnosed not long thereafter with a difficult malignancy. But we kept frequent contact and had many fruitful discussions via e-mail. As his disease progressed, we had many conversations around life and death and the different facets of his predicament, which I know well from my professional life.
    I had the privilege of a rewarding and enlightening, albeit distant friendship with this very fine person. His stoic, sober attitude despite a difficult predicament he knew would lead to his end, was exemplary.

    Thank you professor Ernst for this fine eulogy. Not many of those who have frequented your blog and only got to know professor Odds through his erudite, insightful and, to some of them scathing contributions, realised what an estimable person Frank Odds was.

  • Frank’s knowledge and commentary here will be missed. My sympathy to his loved ones.

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