T cells, B cells, and your immune system

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Max Cooper, MD:
T cells, B cells, and your immune system
September 25, 2008

One of the most influential scientists in the field of immunology, Max Cooper, MD, is credited with a string of landmark discoveries that now provide a framework for understanding how white blood cells normally combat infections and how they go awry to produce leukemia, lymphomas, and autoimmune diseases.

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

Now, to further understand the overall strategy of the immune system, Cooper and his colleagues are studying immune system development in jawless fish: the lamprey and hagfish. By understanding adaptive immunity in these primitive fish, we may gain a better understanding of our own immune system, says Cooper.

 Following a distinguished career spent almost entirely at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Cooper joined the faculty of Emory University School of Medicine in January 2008 as a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar.

His extraordinary record of scholarship has earned him countless professional accolades. He is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine, and he has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Cooper 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.

To listen to Cooper's own words about how his discoveries led to his current line of research, use the player at the top left of this page or subscribe to the podcast.