July 2009 Clinical Laboratory News: A Legendary Clinical Chemist and Man

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July 2009: Volume 35, Number 7


A Legendary Clinical Chemist and Man
Gerald R. Cooper, MD, PhD 1914–2009

Gerald Cooper, MD, PhD, an AACC past president (1984) who was known as the “Father of Cholesterol” passed away on May 25 in Georgia at the age of 94. More than 50 years ago, Cooper noted the significance of blood lipid measurement as a predictor of heart disease risk and during his more than 5 decades of service at CDC, he worked to improve the accuracy and precision of cholesterol and other lipid tests. He also helped to create the Cholesterol Standardization Program and served as medical director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Reference and Research in Blood Lipids at CDC, among many other leadership positions.

In July 2008, Gerald Cooper, MD, PhD (right), attended the AACC Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. and posed for this picture with his close friend and associate, AACC past president, Gary Myers, PhD. “Dr. Cooper loved AACC and was extremely proud of being a past president,” said Myers. Read more about Cooper in AACC’s Hall of Fame.

Cooper published in the first volume of Clinical Chemistry in 1955 and was still publishing in the journal this decade. He was recently featured on the cover of the September 2008 issue along with an “Inspiring Minds” article about his work and life. Always dedicated to his profession, he still could be found in his office at the CDC in Atlanta until earlier this year. Cooper was well known for his gracious Southern demeanor and revered and loved by the many people who knew him.

Cooper received numerous awards including national and local AACC awards, the Distinguished Service Medal from the Public Health Service, the Atlanta Federal Employee of the Year (1989), and the Charles C. Shephard Award for Lifetime Scientific Achievement.

Cooper, who was born in Scranton, S.C., earned his undergraduate, MA, and PhD degrees in chemistry and an MD degree at Duke University. He served on the staffs of the departments of biochemistry, experimental surgery, and medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine before moving to Atlanta to begin a long and distinguished career at the CDC.

Surviving are his wife of 63 years, Lois Painter Cooper, a daughter, two sons, and two grandsons.

The family asks that donations in his honor be made to AACC’s Van Slyke Foundation, the CDC Foundation, or a charity of your choosing. VSF donation forms can be found on the AACC website or by contacting Grace Wong (202-835-8712).

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