With this issue of the journal, we initiate a new periodic series of articles honoring a major leader in cardiovascular biomedical sciences and a strong supporter of research and education in hypertension. Through an educational grant-in-aid from the Upjohn Company, innovative investigators in the field of hypertension and related areas will honor the memory of Theodore Cooper, MD, PhD (Fig 1⇓), who was an outstanding fundamental and clinical investigator, a superb leader in medical education and in industry, and a visionary in biomedical and health administration.
After his graduation and training as a cardiovascular surgeon at St Louis University, Ted worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he had a productive investigative career. He worked on problems dealing with cardiac transplantation, ventricular innervation and function, artificial hearts, and myocardial infarction. After a brief period as Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, he returned to the National Heart Institute to participate in a new program in research administration under the directorship of Robert P. Grant, MD. This led to many research innovations, including the initiation of myocardial infarction units and new designs in mechanisms for research grants that included Specialized Centers of Research, which were designed to bring fundamental research to the clinical setting. After the sudden death of Dr Grant, Ted assumed the directorship, providing guidance during some very exciting days at “the Institute.”
During the administration of President Richard Nixon, Dr Cooper was invited by Secretary Elliot Richardson to be Deputy Assistant and then Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). In these positions, he was a strong representative from academia serving the cause of health and biomedical research. It was in 1972, after the Lasker Award was presented to Edward D. Freis, MD, for his team’s landmark contributions for the Veterans Administration Cooperative Studies in Hypertension, that Dr Cooper prevailed upon the secretary (no doubt with the help of Mary Lasker) to start the National High Blood Pressure Education Program. This program, which is presently emulated by other nations and world health organizations, has championed the case for medical and lay education about hypertension and remains the “crown jewel” in the educational program of the now National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This was the first NIH program that brought the research community into a formal collaboration with industry and academia.
Upon leaving HEW, Ted assumed responsibilities as Dean of the Cornell University Medical College and then in the leadership of the Upjohn Company. At his untimely death in 1993, Ted was Upjohn’s Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board and a member of the board of directors of many national organizations and corporations.
Innovation was the hallmark of his professional life; and to this end, the journal is pleased to begin this series of lectureships honoring Theodore Cooper. It is the intent of the editors to select individuals and to publish similarly innovative contributions from them. To initiate this prestigious series, we have invited R. Wayne Alexander, MD, PhD, Professor and Head of the Cardiovascular Section of Emory University School of Medicine. It is particularly fitting that Dr Alexander introduce the series since he was a research associate of Dr Cooper at the National Heart Institute and is a most productive and imaginative hypertension investigator. His exciting presentation follows this editorial introduction.