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Biographical entry French, Eric Lancelot (1914 - 2002)


1 June 1914
Jamestown, South Australia, Australia
12 February 2002
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Medical scientist, Veterinary scientist and Virologist


Eric Lancelot French was a virologist who worked in both the human and veterinary disease fields. He was an advocate of tough quarantine and disease control measures to protect Australia's livestock industry and was the first person to isolate and characterise Murray Valley Encephalitis. French was Assistant Chief of the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Division of Animal health from 1968 to 1977 and a researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Medical Research Institute (WEHI) from 1947 to 1958. While at WEHI he worked on Asian flu, Murray Valley Encephalitis, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or cot death). At CSIRO French established Australia's first laboratory that was dedicated to the study of animal viruses. Over the years he received many honours including honorary membership to the Australian Veterinary Association and to the Australian College of Veterinary Surgeons, honorary doctorates in veterinary science from the universities of Melbourne and Hanover (Germany) and was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO)



1938 - 1942
Career position - Senior Laboratory Technician in the Bacteriology Department of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in Adelaide
Education - Bachelor of Science (BSc) completed at the ?University of Adelaide
1942 - 1946
Career position - Lieutenant in the Australian Army Medical Corps
Career position - Lecturer in Bacteriology at the University of Adelaide
Education - Post doctoral studies at the London School of Hygiene
1947 - 1958
Career position - Scientist at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Parkville, Victoria
Career position - Established the first animal virology research lab in Australia at the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Animal Health Laboratory in Parkville
1968 - 1977
Career position - Assistant Chief of the CSIRO Division of Animal Health and Officer-in-charge of the Parkville Laboratories
1976 - 1977
Career position - President of the Australian Society for Microbiology
Life event - Retired
Award - Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • 'An Eye on the Past: Eric French', Australasian Science, 17 (1) (1996), 64. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • Warren, Jenni; French, Greg; Snowdon, Bill, 'Obituaries: Precise and inquiring mind battles diseases', The Age (2004), 9. Details