Frank Jen­nings

The Herald - - OBITUARIES -

FRANK Jen­nings, who has died aged 84, was a lead­ing vet­eri­nary sci­en­tist of the lat­ter half of the 20th cen­tury who made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the causes, un­der­stand­ing, di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of a range of par­a­sitic dis­eases in an­i­mals and man.

He was born in Canada where his fa­ther farmed, re­turn­ing to farm in North­ern Ire­land when Frank was 10. With his ru­ral back­ground, his in­ter­est in sci­ence and an­i­mal sci­ence in par­tic­u­lar was fur­ther stim­u­lated dur­ing his sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion at Down­patrick High School and it was no sur­prise he opted to go to Queen’s Univer­sity, Belfast, to study for a bach­e­lor of sci­ence de­gree fol­lowed, by a masters in agri­cul­ture.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, he moved in 1952 to the Univer­sity of Glas­gow where he re­mained for the rest of his work­ing life, prin­ci­pally at the vet­eri­nary school. Ini­tially at Glas­gow, he joined his com­pa­triot Bill Mul­li­gan in the depart­ment of bio­chem­istry, part of which was then based at the old vet­eri­nary col­lege in Buc­cleuch Street.

At Buc­cleuch Street and the new vet­eri­nary cam­pus at Garscube Es­tate, he soon linked up with a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary group who had em­barked on an in-depth study on lung­worm dis­ease in cat­tle, a most de­bil­i­tat­ing and of­ten fa­tal par­a­sitic con­di­tion preva­lent in the higher rain­fall ar­eas of Bri­tain.

The group ini­tially con­sisted of four sci­en­tists, namely Bill Jar­rett (who died in Au­gust), Ian McIn­tyre, Bill Mul­li­gan and Ge­orge Urquhart which be­came five when joined by Mr Jen­nings, and six with the later in­clu­sion of Craig Sharp.

Their out­stand­ing work on the epi­demi­ol­ogy and patho-phys­i­ol­ogy of cat­tle lung­worm dis­ease was widely ac­claimed and was fur­ther lauded when they suc­cess­fully de­vel­oped an oral vac­cine against the dis­ease.

The vac­cine was based on live at­ten­u­ated lar­vae, the at­ten­u­a­tion be­ing de­liv­ered by ex­po­sure to ion­is­ing ra­di­a­tion. Frank’s main role was the de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion of ex­per­i­ments to es­tab­lish the level of ra­di­a­tion re­quired for op­ti­mal at­ten­u­a­tion of the lar­vae. The vac­cine was launched as Dic­tol by com­mer­cial part­ners and re­mains the only helminth vac­cine, hu­man or an­i­mal, on the mar­ket to­day. This re­search put Glas­gow Vet School on The World Map.

Dur­ing this busy pe­riod in his sci­en­tific ca­reer, he still found time to court and marry Irene Chalmers, whom he first met on a rail­way jour­ney to Ed­in­burgh to watch an in­ter­na­tional rugby match be­tween Scot­land and Ire­land. Irene and the fam­ily re­mained his great­est sup­port through­out his dis­tin­guished ca­reer.

In the early 1960s, the Well­come Foun­da­tion funded the build­ing of a new lab­o­ra­tory at Garscube to host fur­ther re­search into an­i­mal dis­eases, in par­tic­u­lar par­a­sitic dis­ease. Mr Jen­nings, now pro­moted to se­nior lec­turer, was one of the first to oc­cupy the new lab­o­ra­to­ries, then un­der the aegis of the Depart­ment of Ex­per­i­men­tal Medicine.

Two in-depth stud­ies on im­por- tant helminth (par­a­sitic worm) dis­eases us­ing the same ap­proach as used in the cat­tle lung­worm work were con­ducted dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s.

The dis­eases stud­ied were os­terta­gia­sis (or stom­ach worm dis­ease) in cat­tle and fas­ci­o­lia­sis (or liver fluke) in cat­tle and sheep.

Both pro­grammes pro­duced new in­for­ma­tion on the epi­demi­ol­ogy and se­quen­tial de­vel­op­ment of the dis­eases with orig­i­nal ob­ser­va­tions on the phys­i­ol­ogy at cel­lu­lar level.

He was ac­tively in­volved in all aspects of these stud­ies and will be re­mem­bered for his de­vel­op­ment of new tech­niques and im­proved method­olo­gies for the di­ag­no­sis of both in­fec­tions. His de­vel­op­ment of the plasma pepsino­gen test for os­terta­gia­sis was par­tic­u­larly no­table and rev­o­lu­tionised the di­ag­no­sis of that dis­ease. This test was unique in that it was the first clin­i­cal bio­chem­i­cal test that could be used for the di­ag­no­sis of a spe­cific dis­ease, namely, os­terta­gia­sis in ru­mi­nants.

In the 1970s and 1980s and now based in the Depart­ment of Vet­eri­nary Par­a­sitol­ogy, Mr Jen­nings be­came in­ter­ested in African Try­panoso­mi­a­sis. This dis­ease, which is caused by a pro­to­zoan par­a­site and is trans­mit­ted by tsetse flies, can be fa­tal in hu­mans and devastates live­stock herds. To­gether with Ge­orge Urquhart, the two Mur­rays, (Max and Keith) and Peter Holmes, many orig­i­nal ob­ser­va­tions were made re­gard­ing the patho­gen­e­sis of the dis­ease.

This work led to Glas­gow Vet School be­ing recog­nised as a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence in African Try­panoso­mi­a­sis re­search with find­ings SIR JAMES AR­MOUR, MAX MURRAY, PETER HOLMES, PETER KENNEDY, JEAN RODGERS and BAR­BARA BRADLEY be­ing ex­tended to East and West Africa. But it was his de­vel­op­ment, to­gether with Bar­bara Bradley, of a ro­bust mouse model of the hu­man dis­ease that mir­rors the neu­ropatho­log­i­cal pro­gres­sion of the in­fec­tion through to the later stages in the brain, which was ar­guably his finest sci­en­tific mo­ment.

The model is recog­nised world­wide as the gold stan­dard and as the plat­form for not only study­ing the neu­ropatho­gen­e­sis of the dis­ease but also to trial novel agents for treat­ing try­panoso­mi­a­sis. It fa­cil­i­tated his dis­cov­ery of the ben­e­fits of us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of ex­ist­ing try­panoci­dal drugs to re­duce the ad­verse re­ac­tions as­so­ci­ated with sin­gle drug ap­pli­ca­tions.

In recog­ni­tion of this work he was pro­moted to reader in vet­eri­nary par­a­sitol­ogy. More re­cently, the model has been em­ployed by Peter Kennedy and Jean Rodgers at Glas­gow Univer­sity to de­velop a promis­ing new try­panoci­dal drug for po­ten­tial use in the treat­ment of hu­man in­fec­tions (as re­ported re­cently in The Her­ald).

Frank Jen­nings was the ideal team man to have in any sci­en­tific group, al­ways avail­able and help­ful, par­tic­u­larly to young as­pir­ing sci­en­tists, to­tally re­li­able yet highly in­no­va­tive. He was great com­pany, con­sid­er­ate and friendly. He had a keen sense of humour; fun and laugh­ter were all part of the work­ing day

He was a keen sports­man and rep­re­sented Ul­ster at un­der-21 level in hockey, an en­thu­si­as­tic golfer, where he was a mem­ber at Cardross and the Univer­sity of Glas­gow Staff Golf Club and later a com­mit­ted sea an­gler at his hol­i­day home on Loch Long

He is sur­vived by his wife Irene, son Colin, daugh­ters Caro­line and Hazel and six grand­chil­dren.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.