Marion D. Francis

Born: May 9, 1923 | Campbell River, BC, CA
Died: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Cincinnati, OH, US

He received his BA in chemistry in 1946 and his MA in chemistry in 1949, both from the University of British Columbia. Francis married shortly after, and he and his wife moved to Iowa, where he continued his studies at the University of Iowa, obtaining a PhD. in biochemistry in 1953. Francis accepted a position with Procter & Gamble in 1952. His first work there involved research on detergents and skin penetration. Procter & Gamble then moved Francis into hair research. Finally, Francis moved to the dental section, where he became involved with fluoride research.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0153
No. of pages: 51
Minutes: 156

Interview Sessions

James G. Traynham
24 January 1997
Cincinnati, Ohio

Abstract of Interview

Marion David Francis begins his interview with a discussion of his childhood in Canada. Deeply influenced by his industrious parents and siblings, Francis worked his way through high school and college at a logging camp. He received his BA in chemistry in 1946 and his M.A. in chemistry in 1949, both from the University of British Columbia. Francis married shortly after, and he and his wife moved to Iowa, where he continued his studies at the University of Iowa, obtaining a PhD in biochemistry in 1953. Francis accepted a position with Procter & Gamble in 1952. His first work there involved research on detergents and skin penetration. Procter & Gamble then moved Francis into hair research. Finally, Francis moved to the dental section, where he became involved with fluoride research. Using both human and bovine dental samples, Francis explored enamel resistance to calcium fluoride. He also proved in other lab tests on rats that fluoride had an anti-enzymatic effect on teeth, and that fluoride treatments helped protect rats' teeth from decay. Francis continued to do dental research on calculus and its safe removal from teeth without damaging the enamel. Speaking on scientific innovation, Francis touches on team effort and support, as well as management and research and development. Francis concludes the interview with a reflection on winning his scientific awards and final thoughts on his family.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1946 University of British Columbia BA Chemistry
1949 University of British Columbia MA Chemistry
1953 University of Iowa PhD Biochemistry

Professional Experience

University of British Columbia

1946 to 1949
Chemist

Canadian Fishing Company

1946
Chemist

University of Iowa

1949 to 1951
Research Assistant
1951 to 1952
US Public Health Fellow

Procter & Gamble Company

1952 to 1976
Research Chemist
1976 to 1985
Senior Scientist
1993
Consultant
1990 to 1993
Research Fellow, Victor Mills Society

Norwich Pharma Services

1985 to 1990
Senior Scientist

Honors

Year(s) Award
1977

Cincinnati Chemist of the Year Award, American Chemical Society, Cincinnati Section

1979

Professional Accomplishment Award in Industry, Technical and Scientific Societies Council of Cincinnati

1990

Technical Innovation Award, Victor Mills Society

1994

National Industrial Chemistry Award, American Chemical Society

1996

Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry

1996

Morley Award and Medal, American Chemical Society, Cleveland Section

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Growing up in British Columbia. Relationship with brothers. Working through high school and college. Decision to major in chemistry. Bachelor's degree in chemistry.

Graduate School and Career Beginnings
6

Decision to attend the University of Iowa. Marriage. Influential professors. PhD in biochemistry. Working as a research assistant at University of Iowa. Accepting a position with Procter & Gamble working in skin research.

Early Career at Procter & Gamble
12

Moving from skin research into hair research. Oxidation studies. Moving from hair research into the dental section. Colleagues in the department. First work on fluoride analysis on enamel. Thermodynamic testing. Enzyme studies on the effect of fluoride on teeth. Beginning work on calculus.

Scientific Studies at Procter & Gamble
19

Studying effect of EHDP (ethane hydroxy diphosphate) on crystal growth inhibition on enamel and bone. Beginning work on phosphonates. Studies on calcifications of mammalian systems. Treating a child with myositis ossificans progressiva. FDA approval of diphosphonates. Venturing into bone research.

Career Reflections
26

Working for Canadian Fishing Company. Scientific innovation. Teamwork and research at Procter & Gamble. Establishing medical group within Procter & Gamble. Developmental support. Future of research and development.

Final Thoughts
36

Winning Award in Chemical Industry and the Perkin Medal. Acknowledgement of staff technicians. Retirement. Family.

Notes
44
Index
46

About the Interviewer

James G. Traynham

James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.