In Remembrance of Jakob Franke

Jakob and Gely at the Dicty 2008 meeting in Tsukuba, Japan

A Message to The Dictyostelium Community

It is with deep regret that we share the news of the unexpected passing of Jakob Franke on Thursday, November 10, 2016, in Northvale, NJ.

An exemplary devotee in the field, Jakob worked on Dictyostelium for nearly forty years, first with Maurice Sussman at Brandeis, and from 1974 to 2008 with Richard Kessin at Harvard and Columbia. Jakob made seminal contributions to the field: he was responsible for some of the first studies on induced protein synthesis. He also developed a minimal medium, FM, for the growth of Dictyostelium amoebae, advancing the genetic analysis of this organism. He purified the cAMP phosphodiesterase and its inhibitor, which led to the cloning of both genes. Jakob created a complete reference bibliography of the Dictyostelium literature and started the Dictyostelium Stock Center, now housed at Northwestern University.

Originally from The Netherlands, or more exactly Friesland, he made his home in the U.S. with his wife Gely and daughters, Dr. Ettaly Jobes and Dr. Arva Rogers.

Jakob's dedication and influence extends to numerous technicians, students, and post-doctoral fellows. Their reminiscences and tributes will appear at a later date.

Richard Kessin and Stefan Pukatzki

Community Messages, November 2016

Many people sent their thoughts to the ListServ after learning about Jakob's unexpected passing from Rich Kessin and Stefan Pukatzki on Nov. 20th, 2016:

November 20, 2016

This is indeed sad news, Jakob's contributions to Dicty research cannot be overstated. I feel fortunate to have known him.

Danny Fuller

November 20, 2016

Dear Rich and the community,
That is very sad, Jacob was an incredibly kind and nice person, I will miss him a lot.

Richard Gomer
November 21, 2016

Dear Rich,

I am so sad to hear this. Jaap was just such a great guy. Utterly dependable and unselfish and good fun to be around with. I am also very sorry for Gely. They were a great couple and she will miss him dearly. To you also my sincere condolences. I know you were very good friends.

November 21, 2016

No!!!! I’m so sorry to hear this. Jacob was the best, truly community minded, always with a smile. Back before Google Scholar his bibliography was so useful!

JNovember 21, 2016

His kindly and amused smile reflected the man. Rob

November 21, 2016

Dear Rick,

Very sad news.
Jacob was a very nice person and made major contributions to our working with Dicty. Although many years in the USA, Jacob (or Jaap in Dutch) was a true Frisian, writing letters to his father and our local newspaper in Frisian, a language that only few can write and read. I met Jaap and Gely many times and was impressed by his balanced character. He was very active in his community, fully developing his interest in humans and nature.
I will mis him a lot.

Peter van Haastert
November 21, 2016

Despite his immense contributions, Jakob was, from my point of view, always more in the background and more known by the “Franke-Kessin-Medium” and the “Franke Database” on Dicty literature than by his personality. Most people probably forgot that he initiated the stock center. He was a “work horse” in the field and did a lot to make Dicty a respectable model system. I did not meet him that often but I’ll never forget the exciting tour he gave me when I visited New York for the first time. Rest in peace Jakob!

November 21, 2016

Dear Richard,

This is very sad news. Jakob was of immense help to me in the old days. He used to send me print-outs and later, floppy disks with complete sets of references to CSM publications. He was low-key and unassuming, always with a smile.

My condolences to his family.

November 21, 2016

What Danny said times ten…

Beth Luna
JNovember 21, 2016

Very sad news indeed, and also a shock. Jakob was a warm and wonderful person and a selfless individual, the last aspect perfectly exemplified by his having established for our community the Franke bibliographic database and Dicty Stock Center. During a year’s sabbatic stay in Rich’s lab, I had the distinct pleasure of sharing an office with Jakob, and getting to know Gely as well. Jakob was so generous with his time and expertise! My condolences to Gely.

David Ratner
November 21, 2016

David’s comments are so true. I knew Jakob for those 40 yrs he was in the field. He was so generous with his time and worked hard to provide great resources for all. Most importantly, he was the nicest guys. We’ll all miss him as a person and he will be remember by all in the literature for his contributions.

November 21, 2016

I will miss Frankie. Nobody gave me more sh— than he did in 1972 in Sussman lab. He was special.

David Soll
November 21, 2016

Dear Rich and Colleagues,

This is very sad news indeed, so unexpectedly loosing a dear Dicty friend. Jakob was the soul of the Dicty Stock Center, and his influence of making it successful is huge. When we took over the Stock Center in 2009, Jakob was immensely helpful making the transition as smooth as possible, providing us with all materials and invaluable advice. Later, he told us how much he enjoyed his retirement, but whenever we still needed any info, he remained there with his kind advice.

Besides adding strain data into dictyBase, Jakob made notes in the database about phenotypes he saw in the strains that he received. At the same time we developed a phenotype ontology in dictyBase and annotated strains and phenotypes from papers. When we found Jakob’s data during our current complete database overhaul, we mapped his phenotypes to our ontology (adding a few new terms as well). As a result, we'll have nearly 400 non-redundant additional phenotypes, including phenotypes for about 100 Stock Center strains, which otherwise don't have any annotations. This will be Jakob’s direct contribution to phenotype annotations in dictyBase in a later release.

We will dearly miss Jakob.

The dictyBase Team
November 21, 2016

I am very sorry to hear this. Jakob was a great and generous guy. I really enjoyed many discussions with him, usually on long hikes at the meetings.

Peter N. Devreotes, Ph.D.
November 21, 2016

I was so sorry to hear this sad news. He will be sorely missed and warmly remembered both as a colleague and friend.

Jeff Williams
November 21, 2016

I can only endorse what everyone else has said about Jakob. A true gem in the Dicty community and he will be greatly missed. Dicty meetings just won't be the same without him, but his contributions will outlive all of us.
Sympathies to Gely and all of his family and friends.
Vale Jakob,

November 21, 2016

I am very sad to hear unexpectedly loosing a dear Dicty friend. Jakob was an exellent and tender scientist. I sometimes enjoyed honest discussions with him at the Dicty meetings.

Yasuo Maeda November 21, 2016

Such sad and unexpected news. In additional to all of his wonderful scientific contributions he was a great friend whose presence always made Dicty meetings a special pleasure. The world seems a sadder place without him.

My condolences to Gely and his family.

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November 22, 2016

It is really a sad news.
I recollect Jacob's generous smile and his great contribution to the community, as other people described. Richy and Jacob offered a great help when we started the Japanese resorce center.

Thank you Jacob, we miss you.

Hideko Urushihara
November 22, 2016

Very sad news; I enjoyed a few pleasant talks with this quite laid-back guy. He will be missed.

November 21, 2016

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and kind words. We have so many wonderful memories to cherish and many wonderful friends. I hope I can continue to carry on, in his name, some of the things that he started. We are still trying to come to terms with such a tragic, unexpected event.

Arva Franke Rogers