Frances Widmann was born in 1935 in Boston, Massachusetts. She received a BA from Swarthmore College in 1956 and an MD from Western Reserve University in 1960. After her internship at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital and her residency at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, she remained at UNC-Chapel Hill as a faculty member. In 1971 she came to Duke to direct the blood bank at the Durham Veteran's Administration Hospital and to teach in the Duke Department of Pathology. She was also assistant chief of the laboratory service at the Durham VA, 1972-1998.
Dr. Widmann's major contributions include editing the Technical Manual of the American Association of Blood Banks (1985) and the Standards for Blood Banks and Transfusion Services (1991 and 1993), which outline the standards of the field of blood banking. Dr. Widmann has won several awards, including the John Elliott award of the American Association of Blood Banks (1984) and the Distinguished Service award from the American Association of Blood Banks (1993). She has also served on numerous committees in the American Association of Blood Banks.