Former NIAID Director Dr. Richard Krause Dies at 90

January 9, 2015
Richard M. Krause, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from 1975 to 1984-a pivotal period for public support of infectious disease research-died January 6, 2015 in Washington, D.C. He was 90 years old.
 
Dr. Krause's 1981 book The Restless Tide-The Persistent Challenge of the Microbial World, elevated global attention to emerging infectious diseases. Publication of the book generally coincided with the discovery and characterization of HIV/AIDS, Legionnaires' disease, Lyme disease and toxic shock syndrome.
 
"Richard was among the first scientists in the modern era to sound a clarion call about the persistent threat of infectious diseases, and during his leadership he kept scientists and policymakers focused on the concepts of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases," said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., who succeeded Dr. Krause as NIAID director. "His scientific recognition that humanity faces a perpetual challenge from emerging and re-emerging microbes was prophetic. I will miss his fierce intelligence, insatiable curiosity, and quick wit. We all have benefited from his myriad contributions to NIH and to science over his long career."
 
Krause was born in Marietta, Ohio, on January 4, 1925 to Ellis L. and Jennie Mae Waterman Krause. Following three semesters at Marietta College, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he worked in a venereal disease control program. He received a B.A. from Marietta College in 1947 and an M.D. in 1952 from Western Reserve University School of Medicine, now Case Western Reserve. In the course of his medical studies, he participated in epidemiologic research with Professor Charles H. Rammelkamp on the immunology and prevention of rheumatic fever, which spurred his interest in the relationship between infection and immunity.
 
In 1954, following training at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, he joined the Rockefeller Institute and Hospital (now Rockefeller University) where he rose to the rank of professor. His research focused on substances that stimulate the body's immune system, as exemplified by his research on the immune response to streptococcal polysaccharides. These studies led him to examine the genetic factors that influence the immune response. In recognition of his research achievements, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1977.
 
During his career he also received the Order of Gumhuria Award from President Anwar Sadat, Republic of Egypt, in 1980; the Robert Koch Medal in Gold in 1985; the Order of Merit, Federal Republic of Germany in 1997; and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star from the Emperor of Japan in 2005.
 
Appointed NIAID director in 1975, Dr. Krause guided the Institute through a period of growth to address the re-emergence of microbial diseases as health threats and to stimulate research on the complexity of the immune system. He was an innovator who reorganized NIAID along programmatic lines and restructured the Rocky Mountain Laboratory into independent laboratories. He also led NIAID into the field of recombinant DNA research and technology.
 
Responding to the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, Dr. Krause organized field studies in Haiti and Zaire in the search for the origins of the causative virus.
 
In July 1984, Dr. Krause retired from the U.S. Public Health Service and became Dean of Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta. In 1989, he returned to the National Institutes of Health to become a senior scientific advisor at the Fogarty International Center. He worked into his late 80s both at Fogarty and as an investigator emeritus in the NIAID Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis, where, for more than a decade-and up to two months before his death-he led an ongoing joint Indo-U.S. effort examining the incidence of streptococcal pharyngitis and rheumatic fever in schoolchildren in India; some have said the project yielded some of his best work. Previously he taught at Rockefeller University in New York (1954-61 and 66-75) and at Washington University in St. Louis (1962-66).
 
Dr. Krause was an active patron of the arts, collected works of art, and was a historian and philanthropist.
 
He was preceded in death by brothers Orville and Karl, sister Mary, and nephew Karl Krause Jr. He is survived by niece Virginia (Ginger) O'Connor, and nephews Kent E. Krause and Irvin E. Hobba, nine grandnieces and grandnephews, and nine great grandnieces and grandnephews.
 
At Richard's request, a simple graveside service for family will be held. Marietta College is planning a memorial service open to the public, but details are not yet available.
 
See the 2007 webcast of a special symposium in honor of Dr. Krause, including a laudatio by Dr. Fauci.
Content last reviewed on January 9, 2015