Robert Frank, M.D. ’73, F.A.C.P, was not only a student of the Wayne State University School of Medicine, for many alumni he is the living embodiment of the school and its mission.
Upon his retirement in 2011 as interim dean of Faculty Affairs, Dr. Frank had been with the WSU School of Medicine 42 years as a student, physician, educator and administrator. He has served as interim dean, executive vice dean, and associate dean for Academic and Student Programs, in addition to a stint as interim chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Dr. Frank was largely responsible for shaping the current comprehensive medical curriculum. He made social responsibility an intrinsic component of medical education, bringing an important and appropriate balance to the medical student experience. He incorporated subjects such as doctor-patient communication, end-of-life care, geriatric medicine, palliative care, environmental health exposures and understanding cultural differences into the curriculum. He co-founded the Palliative Care Service at Detroit Receiving Hospital, and as a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility remains a strong advocate for often-forgotten patient groups like the elderly and the indigent. He was the geriatrician in charge of the St. Patrick Senior Center Health Care Clinic in Detroit for nearly 20 years.
A native of Massachusetts, he received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Brandeis University. After receiving his medical degree from the WSU School of Medicine, Dr. Frank performed an internship and then a residency at Detroit General Hospital in 1977. He then joined the WSU faculty, and served as chief of Medicine at Detroit Receiving Hospital from 1983 to 1985, where he co-founded the Palliative Care Service.
Dr. Frank is a past winner of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, presented by the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Gold Humanism Honor Society’s Arnold P. Gold Foundation. In 2005 he received the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dr. Frank’s major clinical interests were in geriatrics and end-of-life care, and serving as an advocate for the indigent and the elderly. His major research interests were in medical education and curriculum development.
WSU School of Medicine students named the Robert R. Frank Student Run Free Clinic – the first student-run clinic in Michigan – in his honor in 2012. He and his wife, retired professor of WSU Family Medicine Sharon Popp, established the Robert R. Frank, M.D., Endowed Scholarship in the School of Medicine in 2011 to reduce the financial burden of medical students.