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Frank O. Richards Jr., M.D.

Director, River Blindness Elimination Program, Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program, and Schistosomiasis Control Program

Frank Richards

Dr. Frank Richards is an expert in parasitic and tropical diseases who has worked extensively in Latin America and Africa. His professional interest is in the safe and effective delivery of available tools to eliminate the transmission of tropical parasitic diseases. The health programs he directs at The Carter Center have helped ministries of health and local communities provide more than half a billion preventive treatments through mass drug administration (MDA) programs in 11 countries.

Richards came to The Carter Center from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he spent 23 years in the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria. Over the course of his career he has worked and published on lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, Guinea worm, neurocysticercosis, and malaria. Richards' particular expertise, however, is ivermectin (Mectizan®) MDA programs for river blindness (onchocerciasis). He has been involved in onchocerciasis elimination programs in Latin America since 1987 and in Africa since 1992. He has held leadership positions in two major regional river blindness programs: the Carter Center’s Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA) and the World Health Organization’s African Program for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC). In part due to key assistance from OEPA, four countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Guatemala) are the only ones in the world so far verified by the WHO to have eliminated river blindness. Subnational elimination successes have been achieved in Africa in Carter Center-assisted areas of Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. Millions of people no longer need treatment for onchocerciasis because of these efforts.

Richards earned a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Williams College (1975) and his medical degree from Cornell University (1979). He completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Southern California/Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, his epidemiology training in the EIS program at the CDC, and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at Emory. While at CDC, Richards was stationed for five years in Guatemala; he retired with the rank of captain in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service in 2005. Richards is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Richards currently chairs two committees: the Program Coordinating Committee for OEPA and the WHO Malaria Elimination Oversight Committee. He also serves on the Executive Group of the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis. His awards include the Williams College Bicentennial Medal, the USPHS Commissioned Corps Outstanding Service Medal, the Department of Health and Human Services' Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service, the National Medical Fellowships' Pioneer Award, and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Bailey K. Ashford Medal. Richards has authored or co-authored more than 200 articles, letters, and chapters. He holds faculty appointments at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health (Department of Global Health) and the Emory School of Medicine (Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease). He speaks Spanish and has working experiences in French, Portuguese, and German.

Related Resources

River Blindness Control Program

Schistosomiasis Control Program

Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program

Profile | Adaptation Key in Director's Fight Against Parasites

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