In 2006, Frank became a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Preventive Medicine and Population Health at UBC. Before moving to UBC she was a full Professor, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, and Director of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. She clinically specialized in cholesterol management at Emory’s indigent health clinics and in their tertiary referral center from 1993 – 2004. During that time she also served as a Research Physician, Medical Epidemiologist, and Medical Consultant at the U.S. CDC, in Cancer Control, Health Care and Aging, Injury Control, Nutrition and Physical Activity, STD Prevention, and the Office on Smoking and Health.
She is an advocate for public health, most notably having served on the Boards of the American College of Preventive Medicine (1997–2003) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (1998–2009, including serving as PSR’s President from 2008 to 2009), and as an elected municipal official with special responsibilities for public health and sustainability for the University Neighbourhoods Association of the University of British Columbia (2007–2013). She has also served as a Board Member, Executive Committee member, and/or President of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Long Range Planning, AMA Section on Medical Schools’ Governing Council, Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine Foundation, Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health, DuPont Epidemiology Advisory Board, DuPont Health Advisory Board, National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation, UBC President’s Commission on Sustainability, and the Ulrich and Ruth Frank Foundation for International Health. Frank is Research Director of the Annenberg Physician Training Program (since 2005), served as a Senior Medical Scientist for the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare of BC (2006–2007), and has travelled and/or worked in over 50 countries. She founded the Ulrich and Ruth Frank Foundation for International Health in 1988, and has continuously served as its President.
Frank was the health reporter from 1985 to 1987 for the central Georgia ABC-TV affiliate], Editor of the student component of JAMA in 1987–88, the health reporter for Vogue in 1988–89, and Co-Editor in Chief of the scientific journal, Preventive Medicine from 1994 to 1999. She has also made multiple international television and radio appearances, written editorials, and been quoted in print as an expert on various prevention-related topics with Agence France Presse, Associated Press, BBC, CBC, CNN, Later Today Show, National Press Club, New York Times, Reuters, USA Today, The Vancouver Observer and others.
Frank has published over 140 peer-reviewed scientific publications, including four first-authored in JAMA and articles in other major peer-reviewed medical journals such as The Lancet, BMJ and Annals of Internal Medicine.
In addition to Frank's research on the efficacy of NextGenU to improve health, her other research emphasis focuses on physicians’ personal and clinical prevention habits. This work has led to her developing the Healthy Doc - Healthy Patient initiative, a series of studies and programs to improve physicians' prevention counseling by improving their personal health practices. Frank has done extensive research on the extent to which physicians' habits shape their patients' habits.
This research began in 1991 with Frank’s conducting "The Women Physicians’ Health Study". WPHS demonstrated that physicians’ health practices strongly and consistently influence their patient care practices and that (contrary to myth) women physicians have extremely healthy personal practices. Frank was also the Principal Investigator of a national study at 17 U.S. medical schools, showing that it is possible to cultivate personal health habits among medical students, and that these students are then more likely to counsel their patients about prevention. Her national studies in Canada, Colombia, and Israel (in a study of 1,488 physicians and their 1.9 million patients), have shown similar findings.
She is the daughter of the late (1922–1990) Ulrich Anton Frank, a biomedical engineer with many patents and a prolific painter and sculptor, and Ruth Esser Frank (1922–2013), a professor of education at Bucks County Community College. Frank's life partner is designer/builder Kevin Bradley, and she is the mother of Ridge Frank-White. She was from 1999 until 2006 a resident of the Lake Claire cohousing community, and co-designed, built, and inhabited the only energy independent home in Georgia (1995–2006).
Frank received a B.A. in Honors and Independent Studies degree from Smith College in Northampton, MA, an M.D. degree in 1988 from Mercer University (Macon, GA) and an M.P.H. degree in 1984, with an emphasis on Health Education and Epidemiology, from Emory University (Atlanta, GA). She interned from 1988 to 1989 at the Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH), completed a residency in 1990 at Yale University (New Haven, CT), was a Research Fellow from 1990 to 1993 at Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA) in preventive medicine, and is board certified in preventive medicine.
Frank has been lauded for her work in public health and preventive medicine. She is honored as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha (the U.S. national medical honor society), and her work has been recognized in a number of awards, including:The AMA/Pettis Award, for her work as the outstanding U.S. medical student communicator (1987)
The American College of Preventive Medicine’s (ACPM’s) “Rising Star Award” (in 1996, the first year this award was offered)
The Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Rollins School of Public Health (1998)
Nominated by U.S. Congressman John Lewis and selected as U.S. National Library of Medicine “Local Legend” (2004)
Featured as an “ecoheroine” by Atlanta Woman magazine (2005)
Appointed as Canada Research Chair (2006)
Recipient of the Michael Smith Foundation Senior Scholar Award (5 year funding and establishment award) and Senior Scholar designation (2006–2011)
Sole recipient of the Alumni Achievement award at Princeton Day School (2009)
Received the Director’s Group Award from the National Cancer Institute, NIH, for work on physician health (2012)
Recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, presented by the American College of Preventive Medicine (2012)
Recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award, presented by the American College of Preventive Medicine (2015)