University of Minnesota

Gerald Cooper, MD, PhD

1914 — 2009

Gerald Cooper, founder and long time director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Lipid Standardization Program, was born in South Carolina and received all his education at Duke University. After his recruitment to head special CDC laboratories in 1952, he was challenged by cardiovascular (CVD) epidemiologists and by the director of the National Heart Institute, James Watt, to improve the quality and establish quality control of laboratories serving the rapidly growing research community in CVD epidemiology and clinical trials. This began in earnest in the early 1960s with the stringent requirements of the Coronary Drug Project trial and the Diet-Heart Pilot Trial.

Cooper created the CDC Lipid Standardization Program and developed the conceptual and statistical models for continuing testing of laboratory performance for blood lipids and other biological markers. With his drive to effectively serve the US and international need for laboratory quality he devised unique systems, within a rigid bureaucracy, to support and extend these services through setting up regional reference laboratories and then providing them on-going quality surveillance. His methodological contributions are central to the history of CVD prevention research.

Gerry Cooper led the organizations and journals of clinical chemistry over many decades and remained active as research medical officer at the National Center for Environmental Health of CDC until his death. (HB)


Marquis’s Who’s Who on the Web. ‘Gerald Cooper’. Available from:
[Accessed 24 August 2006].

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