Fenner was born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1914. He studied for a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Adelaide and graduated in 1938. In 1940 he completed a diploma in tropical medicine and 1942 he completed his Doctor of Medicine degree. During World War II he joined the Australian Army as a doctor and studied the parasite that caused malaria.
After the war he worked at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne where he studied smallpox. In 1949 he became the first professor of microbiology at the new Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. His interest on research was the myxoma virus. This virus was used to kill millions of rabbits that were destroying large areas of Australian grasslands and farms.
In 1967 Fenner became the Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU and also Chairman of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication. In 1973 he became director of the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at ANU.
- MBE (1945)
- Britannica Australia Award for Medicine (1967)
- Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Medal (1980)
- World Health Organization Medal (1988)
- Japan Prize (1988)
- Companion of the Order of Australia (1989)
- Senior Australian Achiever of the Year (1999)
- Albert Einstein World Award for Science (2000)
- Prime Minister's Science Prize (2002)
- Australian Capital Territory Australian of the Year (2002)
Frank Fenner Medal [change]
The John Curtin School of Medical Research awards the Frank Fenner Medal for the best Phd research in medicine at ANU.
- "ANU - The John Curtin School of Medical Research - JCSMR". jcsmr.anu.edu.au. http://jcsmr.anu.edu.au/about/fenner/index.php. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
- "Frank Fenner, who eradicated smallpox and ended rabbit plague, dead at 95". theaustralian.com.au. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/frank-fenner-who-eradicated-smallpox-and-ended-rabbit-plague-dead-at-95/story-e6frg6nf-1225958840687. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
- "RAPID ROUNDUP: Australian scientists pay tribute to Frank Fenner". aussmc.org. http://www.aussmc.org/2010/11/rapid-roundup-australians-pay-tribute-to-frank-fenner/. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
- "ANU - The John Curtin School of Medical Research - JCSMR". jcsmr.anu.edu.au. http://jcsmr.anu.edu.au/about/fenner/austyear.php. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
- "ANU - The John Curtin School of Medical Research - JCSMR". jcsmr.anu.edu.au. http://jcsmr.anu.edu.au/about/fenner/fennermedal.php. Retrieved 2 December 2010.