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Robert James Frascino, MD
Resident of Los Altos
Who fought HIV professionally for 30 years and personally for 20 years, died suddenly on September 17, 2011 in Mtn. View, California. He was 59. The cause of death was bacterial sepsis. His husband, Steven Natterstad, MD, and his sister, Linda Godfrey of Glen Rock, New Jersey, were with Bob when he died. His dog, Presto, was also close by.
Bob was a physician, an educator, a tireless advocate for the HIV/AIDS community, a trustee of Oberlin College and a concert pianist. His love of life, keen intellect, sense of humor and ever-present smile will be missed by all who knew him. His boundless generosity with his time, his energy and his advocacy encompassed his family, his friends and his community alike.
Bob was born in Rochester, New York. He graduated with high honors from Oberlin College in 1974 with a degree in biology. He earned a medical degree at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, served his internship and residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Oakland, and completed his postdoctoral clinical immunology/allergy fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Frascino was one of the first physicians to treat HIV-infected patients in the early 80s. He subsequently founded two medical clinics devoted to the comprehensive and compassionate care of HIV-positive people. As primary investigator for several HIV clinical trials, he published articles on evolving new treatments and quality of life issues for people living with the virus in such journals as International Journal of STD and AIDS, Western Journal of Medicine, Journal of AIDS and Blood. A Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Frascino also served as Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Immunology, Rheumatology, and Allergy, at Stanford University Medical Center for 18 years. He was a certified member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine and a distinguished member of the executive boards of numerous state and regional associations, including Past President of the California Society of Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology; the Allergy/Immunology Association of Northern California; and the Allergy, Asthma, Immunology Foundation of Northern California.
Dr. Frascino crossed the line from physician to patient when an occupational exposure resulted in his testing HIV positive. In early 1996, when his health began to fail, he gave up his HIV/AIDS medical practice and turned his efforts to HIV education and to fundraising. In his words, "I could now speak with the knowledge and authority of a physician, but with the eyes and heart and soul of a patient." That same year, he and Steve, both concert pianists, planted the seed for what would become The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org) by performing a piano concert benefitting HIV/AIDS at their home in Los Altos, California. Due to its overwhelming success, the couple founded the Concerted Effort HIV/AIDS benefit concert series through which they performed classical and popular piano concerts throughout California. They raised over $1,500,000 for crucial HIV/AIDS services worldwide, ranging from hospice care in Los Angeles to a clean needle-exchange program in Washington, DC to the provision of anti-HIV medication to HIV-positive pregnant women in Africa, thereby helping to prevent transmission of the virus to their newborns. Concerted Effort 2011, which would have been the 17th in the series, was scheduled to take place at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts on September 18, the day following Bob's death.
Dr. Frascino was the recipient of the National Society of Fundraising Executives' Distinguished Honoree/Silicon Valley Philanthropy Award and the Santa Clara County Medical Association's Award for "Outstanding Contribution in Medical Education." In May 2002, as part of the International AIDS Candlelight Vigil in San Francisco, Dr. Frascino accepted the Bobbi Campbell AIDS Hero Award for which he received personal letters of acknowledgement and congratulations from both Governor Gray Davis and Mayor Willie Brown.
Since May 2000 Dr. Frascino served as an expert in two Internet-based HIV educational forums - Fatigue/Anemia and Safe Sex/HIV Prevention - at The Body, an HIV/AIDS information resource website (www.thebody.com). He posted answers to nearly 30,000 questions over the past 11 years. In December 2010 he started a blog titled "Life, Love, Sex, HIV and Other Unscheduled Events." Known as "Dr. Bob" to his global online community, he touched the lives of millions of people through his forums and blog.
In 2005 Dr. Frascino joined the Oberlin College Board of Trustees. He served as vice chair of the board for two years beginning in 2009. In the words of fellow trustee Stewart Kohl, " . . . he was the shining light of our board who on every issue - big and small - brought his keen mind, great sense of humor, appreciation for the human side of issues and an especially well developed sense of fashion relative to the rest of us schleps from Oberlin." "Bob was a wonderful trustee and friend to Oberlin," says President Marvin Krislov. "His leadership, dedication, and unfailingly positive spirit brightened our community. We mourn his loss. He leaves a legacy at Oberlin that we will cherish."
In addition to his husband and sister, Bob is survived by his parents, Jennie and Angelo Frascino of Saratoga, California and by many friends, colleagues and "eyeballs" around the world.
A private ceremony will be held Friday, November 11 at 1 p.m. at Villa Montalvo, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga, California. To follow at 2:00 p.m. will be a public reception where all who knew Dr. Frascino are invited to join in the celebration of his life and his legacy.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, 1000 Fremont Avenue, Suite 145, Los Altos, CA 94024. www.concertedeffort.org.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Sept. 30, 2011