taPrime Consulting Ltd

Felix Franks (1926 - 2016)


Felix Franks used to refer to Mike Pikal as the King of Freeze Drying.  If Mike was the King, then Felix was truly the Father of Freeze Drying.

Those who were fortunate to know him well learned from his many tales that his life had been truly extraordinary.  Born in Berlin in1926 he became a kindertransport refugee.  It was the beginning of a remarkable journey which saw him take part in the D-Day landings, witness the liberation of Belsen concentration camp, and operate as an undercover agent in what was to become East Germany.  All that was before took British citizenship and turned his attention to science at the age of 22, in 1948.

Trained as physical chemist, Felix developed an unsurpassed knowledge of the properties of water and frozen solutions. A knowledge he applied to the fundamentals of protein biochemistry as well as to industrial applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries.  Felix was one of the first to teach the importance of the glass transition in freeze-drying, and in doing so created a revolution which changed the way the entire industry thought and developed products.  He opened the door to the rational use of amorphous materials in biopreservation and protein stabilisation.  

Many of us have known him as a colleague, mentor or friend.  I was lucky enough to know him in all three roles.  When we presented Freeze Drying courses together he would introduce me by saying "I used to be his boss, but now we are friends".

One cannot pay tribute to Felix without paying tribute to his wife, Hedy, a fellow refugee, who he married in 1950.  She gave him unfailing support throughout their life together, and to be a friend of Felix often was to become a friend of Hedy too.  Sadly she too has now passed on, but those who knew them both were blessed, and know we may not see their kind again.

Tony Auffret 



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