Queer Places:
Cornell University (Ivy League), 410 Thurston Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850

Frank LillyDr. Frank Lilly (August 28, 1930 - October 14, 1995) was a geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and one of the first openly gay Presidential appointees. In 1987, Dr. Lilly was named by President Ronald Reagan to the 13-member Presidential Commission on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Epidemic. His appointment upset conservatives, who opposed the presence of a homosexual on the panel, even though most AIDS cases occurred among gay men. Although this imbroglio briefly cast Dr. Lilly in the national spotlight, he is better remembered for his work in describing the role of hereditary factors that govern susceptibility to cancer-causing agents. Dr. Lilly demonstrated that different tissue types in mice yielded different levels of resistance to virus-induced leukemia, and he identified the gene responsible for that difference. Dr. Dominick P. Purpura, the dean of Albert Einstein College, which is part of Yeshiva University, wrote in 1987 that Dr. Lilly "combines the talent of a 'classical' geneticist with the innovative mastery of the most sophisticated concepts and methodologies of immunology and molecular biology."

Frank Lilly was born in Charleston, WV, the son of Frank Otho Lilly and E. Verna Zimmerman. He received a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Paris and a Ph.D. in biology from Cornell University. He joined the genetics department at Einstein College in 1965 as a research fellow. He became a professor and was chairman of the department from 1976 to 1989; he retired in August, 1995. In 1983 Dr. Lilly was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He served on the board of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, a private AIDS support and advocacy organization, from 1984 to 1986. When he was named to the Presidential commission in July 1987, Dr. Lilly said he was "probably among the first openly gay persons to have been appointed to a significant position in any U.S. Administration." The commission was headed first by Dr. W. Eugene Mayberry, chief executive officer of the Mayo Clinic, and then by James D. Watkins, a retired admiral who had been Chief of Naval Operations. Although the White House insisted that Dr. Lilly was chosen because of his work with retroviruses similar to H.I.V., he said his homosexuality "must have been a factor of considerable weight." And he pledged "to forcefully represent the gay community as well as the biomedical community." During the commission's final deliberations in 1988, Dr. Lilly joined a narrow majority in recommending that a Federal law prohibiting Government-supported programs from discriminating against people with AIDS be expanded to the private sector.

Lilly died on October 14, 1995, at his home in Manhattan. He was 65. The cause was prostate cancer, his son, Matthew Adrian, said. Besides Mr. Adrian, of Manhattan, Dr. Lilly is survived by two daughters, Mikaela Gross and Ilana Gross, both of the Bronx.

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