Dr. Frank attended Radcliffe College where, with mentorship from Dr. Renee C. Fox and the late Dr. Mary C. Howell, she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1970. Following college graduation, she worked as a social work assistant in the Lead Poisoning clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital and was active working with community groups in developing the Massachusetts Lead Paint Law. During this time, she discovered that she wanted to serve young children by becoming a pediatrician and completed what would now be called a Post-Bac program. In 1976, she graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed her residency at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, Washington. Strongly interested in child development, she served as a fellow at Children’s Hospital in Boston under Dr. T. Berry Brazelton. She began working at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center) in 1981. In 1984 she found the Failure to Thrive Program at Boston City Hospital, now called the Grow Clinic for Children at Boston Medical Center. In the 1980s, Dr. Frank and her staff also started a small food and clothing pantry in their offices to serve Grow Clinic patients, after finding that the families did not have financial resources to provide the high quality diet necessary for children’s recovery of growth and health. It was the first hospital-based food pantry in the country, and thanks to Boston Medical Center donors, is now open to all Boston Medical Center patients. The food pantry provides 7,000 patients and family members with nutritious, healthy food each month. Pantry staff members also teach low-income families how to cook healthy meals, empowering parents to help their children grow into healthy adults.
In 1998, she founded Children’s Health Watch (formerly Children’s Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program, C-SNAP). With colleagues across the country, she is one of the principal investigators of this ongoing effort to produce non-partisan, original and policy-relevant research on the health of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, whose needs are often not promptly identified in government research programs. Children’s HealthWatch works to improve young children’s nutrition, health, and development by informing policies that could address and alleviate their families’ economic hardships. She has also received NIH funding to evaluate the long term outcomes of children with and without intrauterine exposure to cocaine and other substances.
Dr. Frank has written numerous scientific articles and papers. Her work has focused on breastfeeding promotion, women and children affected by substance use, nutrition among homeless pregnant women and children, Failure to Thrive, food insecurity, and the “heat or eat” phenomenon, the dilemma that many low-income families face in the winter when they have to make the critical choice between heating their homes and feeding their children. She is especially proud of successfully mentoring many pre-professional and professional colleagues.
Cited as a respected authority in her fields, Dr. Frank has frequently given testimony to state and federal legislative committees on the growing problem of hunger and associated hardships in the United States and its effects on our youngest children. Dr. Frank was the sole physician appointed to the 10 member National Commission on
Hunger in 2014. She was also recruited to serve on the Aspen Institute’s Dialogue on Food Insecurity and Health Care Costs.
In 2011 she became the inaugural incumbent of a newly established Pediatric Professorship in Child Health and Well Being at Boston University School of Medicine
In 2010 Dr. Frank received the Massachusetts Health Council Outstanding Leadership Award and the Physician Advocacy Merit Award from the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University. She received the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps’ Embracing the Legacy Award on June 3, 2014, 2014, the American Medical Association’s Dr. Debasish Mridha Spirit of Medicine Award on June 6, 2014, and the Congressional Hunger Center’s Bill Emerson and Mickey Leland Award on June 24, 2014. She received two awards in 2015 one national --- Dale Richmond/Justin Coleman Award, American Academy of Pediatrics and the other regional -- Changing the Equation Award, Eos Foundation. In 2016 the Grow clinic was the recipient of the Nick Littlefield Award for Excellence in Community Health.
Dr. Frank is married to Rabbi Neil Kominsky, with whom she has a blended family, including Rabbi David Kominsky, who is married to Eva Schweber; Dr. Daniel and Sara Kominsky and their two children, Cecelia Grace and Solana; as well as Jonathan Frank Kominsky, who is a PhD candidate in developmental psychology at Yale University.
Dr. Frank was recently informed by a 4 year old in the clinic that she was “a grandma doctor,” which encapsulates her current role as a clinician, researcher, mentor and advocate.