Frank O. Richards Jr., M.D.
Director, River Blindness Program, Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program, Schistosomiasis Control Program, and Malaria Control Program
Dr. Richards is an expert in parasitic and tropical diseases who has worked extensively in Latin America and Africa. The health programs he directs at The Carter Center have helped to provide more than 170 million treatments for parasitic disease in 11 countries over the last 15 years. The malaria program has helped provide nearly 14 million insecticide-treated bed nets in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Hispaniola.
Dr. Richards came to The Carter Center from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he spent more than 20 years in a career focused on parasitic disease control and eradication in the Americas and Africa. He has worked on schistosomiasis control in Egypt, Guinea worm eradication in Cameroon, lymphatic filariasis elimination in Haiti and Nigeria, and malaria control in Guatemala, Hispaniola, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. Dr. Richards' particular expertise is in onchocerciasis (river blindness) and the delivery of Mectizan® tablets (donated by Merck) through mass drug administration programs. He has been involved in the Guatemalan Mectizan distribution program since 1987 and in the Nigerian Mectizan distribution program since 1992. He participated in the launching and operations of two major regional river blindness programs: the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA), launched in 1992, which reaches six countries in the Americas, and the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (launched in 1996), reaching 18 countries in Africa. In 2013, Dr. Richards was elected chair of the Program Coordinating Committee for OEPA.
Dr. Richards earned his Bachelor of Arts from Williams College and his medical degree from Cornell University. He completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Southern California/Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and his fellowship in infectious diseases at Emory. While at CDC, he spent five years in Guatemala and reached the rank of captain in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.
Dr. Richards' awards include the Williams College Bicentennial Medal, the Commissioned Corps Outstanding Service Medal, the Department of Health and Human Services' Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service, and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Bailey K. Ashford Medal. Dr. Richards has authored or co-authored more than 190 articles, letters, and chapters. He holds faculty appointments at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health (Department of Global Health), and the Emory School of Medicine (Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease) and is affiliated with Children's Health Care of Atlanta. In addition to English, he speaks Spanish and has had past working experiences in French, Portuguese, and German.