Lives of the fellows

Edward Holmes Cooper

b.6 April 1927 d.19 January 1994
MRCS LRCP(1950) MB BS Lond(1950) MRCP(1954) MD(1957) Dphil Oxon(1959) DSc Lond(1973) FRCP(1973)

Edward (Teddy) Cooper will be remembered by all who knew him as an enthusiast, an entrepreneur, a widely read scientist and a most able colleague.

He was born in Westcliffe, Essex, the son of Alfred Harold Cooper and his wife Edith (née Larkin), daughter of a textile agent. He was educated at Berkhamstead School during the war years and went on to study medicine at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, London. After qualification he held house posts at St Mary’s Hospital and Putney Hospital. From 1951 to 1953 he undertook his military service as a RAMC officer with the Gurkha Brigade in Malaya and India, returning to take up a house physician post at Paddington and St Stephen’s Hospitals. In 1954 he became a medical registrar at St Mary’s Hospital. In the same year he married Patricia Janet Gower. There were five children of the marriage.

He embarked on what was to be a lifelong career in research in 1956 when he was appointed a MRC clinical research fellow in the department of biochemistry at the University of Oxford, under the headship of Hans Krebs, later Sir Hans [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.325]. He worked on the effects of radiation on lymphocytes under the supervision of L A Stocken and was awarded a London doctorate in 1957 and a Dphil from Oxford in 1959. During this time he was a fellow of Worcester College. He subsequently returned to his old stamping ground at St Mary’s as Watson-Smith research fellow, attached to the medical unit with W S Peart, and duly went on to become a Wellcome Trust senior research fellow in clinical science. In 1965 he moved to the Chester Beatty Research Institute as a senior lecturer, his research credentials in cancer firmly established, with a particular interest in the growth of leukaemic cells.

Teddy was head-hunted by Leeds University for the chair of experimental pathology and cancer research, and in September 1967, he took up the post of Harold Mackintosh professor of cancer research and director of cancer research. In Leeds his research direction became the development of laboratory based systems for the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with cancer. From 1967 to 1974 Teddy’s team was substantially funded by the Yorkshire Cancer Research Campaign in their work of assessing tumour markers and tumour associated changes in serum enzymes and plasma proteins. After that time Teddy put his entrepreneurial skills to good use by obtaining a portfolio of grants and industrial support for the Cancer Research Unit in Leeds. Over the years the unit developed a high expertise in protein purification from serum and urine and published a great deal of good work on tumour markers, most notably on the value of beta 2 microglobulin in myeloma. One of Teddy’s great skills was his ability to establish excellent research collaborations with clinical colleagues throughout Yorkshire and beyond.

Teddy was one of the founder members of the group responsible for the setting up and development of the Yorkshire Regional Cancer Organization (YRCO) in 1973. The YRCO proved to be by far the most successful of the four original pilot organizations and its hallmark - the establishment of clinically-led specialty groups supported by a central secretariat - owed much to his inspiration and active participation. He was extremely active in promoting the research of a number of the groups within the organization and had a strong involvement in urological cancer research. He had a particular interest in communication and education. The oncology information service, which he initiated with the support of the DOH and the University of Leeds medical and dental library, was at that time a unique updating system in the field of cancer which continues to be available to clinicians on a world-wide basis, by subscription. The Oncology Newsletter, published by the YRCO and of which he was editor, also owed its origin to Teddy’s wish to promote multidisciplinary collaboration and to encourage the best approaches to the investigation and treatment of patients with cancer. From 1973 he served on the executive committee and the advisory committee of the YRCO, and was chairman of the latter from 1980 to 1983. These periods of office were characterized by his determination to see the Yorkshire group keep abreast of developments and play their part in the international scene. He was much respected internationally and in Europe he was active within the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, where he served on its Council and held the chair of its Scientific Audit Committee.

Following his early retirement in 1988 Teddy continued to be active in research and he was instrumental in establishing the diagnostic development unit within the department of chemical pathology and immunology. This self-funding research and development group, comprising some of the staff of his old unit, was still very much led by Teddy and undertook contract research for the diagnostics industry. His death from carcinoma of the prostate, a disease on which he had worked for many years, sadly cut short his retirement in the Cumbrian countryside, where he and his wife Pat were organizing a new garden.

J T Whicher

(Volume X, page 72)

<< Back to List