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15 November 2007
Renowned Immunologist Max Cooper Will Join Emory as GRA Eminent Scholar
Max Cooper, MD, an internationally acclaimed physician and researcher regarded as one of the most influential scientists in the field of immunology, will join the faculty of Emory University School of Medicine in January as a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. He will be appointed as a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and a member of the Emory Vaccine Center.

In a distinguished career spent almost entirely at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Dr. Cooper has been a leader in research on the cellular, molecular and developmental biology of white blood cells. He is credited with a string of landmark discoveries that now provide a framework for understanding how these cells normally combat infections and how they go awry to produce leukemias, lymphomas and autoimmune diseases.

"We are extremely pleased that Dr. Cooper has chosen to join Emory as we continue to grow our research enterprise and add eminent scientists to our faculty," says Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, CEO of Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "He is an outstanding addition to an already stellar group of Emory immunologists."

Dr. Cooper is the ninth scientist to be recruited to Emory as a Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Eminent Scholar. The GRA is a national model of a public-private partnership among Georgia universities, business and state government, and has so far attracted 58 Eminent Scholars to Georgia's research universities.

"Georgia’s reputation and capability as a leader in immunology and next-generation vaccine discovery and development are immeasurably strengthened by the vision and leadership of Dr. Cooper," says C. Michael Cassidy, CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance. "We are proud to be a partner in his recruitment."

Among Dr. Cooper's earliest discoveries was the finding that there are two distinct types of white blood cells, now known as T and B lymphocytes, that play separate but complementary roles in defending against infections. This is today recognized as one of the most important organizing principles of the immune system.

Subsequent research by Dr. Cooper and his colleagues revealed that T and B cells each begin life in the bone marrow but then follow separate pathways and pass through specific stages of development before they reach maturity. This led him to the realization that, in many patients with leukemia, lymphoma or inherited immune deficiency diseases, T or B cells are arrested at particular, immature stages in their development, and that this could serve as a framework for classifying those diseases and understanding the medical problems they cause.

Dr. Cooper was also a pioneer in developing methods that today enable transplantation of the bone marrow and of blood stem cells, providing the hope of treating these often life-threatening disorders. His most recent research has identified a new type of antibody protein produced by certain fishes that may be useful for diagnosing and treating human diseases.

"Dr. Cooper's decision to join Emory is wonderful and a tremendous honor and a testament to the collaborative efforts of Emory University and the Georgia Research Alliance, the Emory School of Medicine and its Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Emory Vaccine Center," says Thomas J. Lawley, MD, dean, Emory University School of Medicine.

"The impact of Dr. Cooper's many discoveries and insights would be hard to overstate," says Tristram Parslow, MD, PhD, the chair of Emory's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. "Through his own discoveries and the many other researchers he has trained and inspired, Dr Cooper's influence resonates through all of contemporary immunology."

His extraordinary record of scholarship has earned Dr. Cooper countless professional accolades. He is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and he has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He received the 3M Life Sciences Award, the Sandoz Prize and a lifetime achievement award from the American Association of Immunologists.

Dr. Cooper has published more than 420 scientific papers and 220 book chapters, presided over leading scientific societies and served on a host of blue-ribbon advisory councils as well as on the editorial boards of more than 30 scholarly journals.

He received his medical degree from Tulane University Medical School in 1957, subsequently trained as a pediatrician, and has remained active as a physician in addition to his research career. ###

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