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Featured Faculty
by Julia Foster

Dr. Paul Cooke, professor of endocrinology in veterinary biosciences, joined the College faculty in 1987 and has spent the past 16 years as researcher, teacher, and world traveler.

[Dr. Cooke and members of  his lab]
Members of Dr. Cooke's lab include from left, in front: Melissa Zakroczymski, Afia Naaz (PhD student), Motoko Mukai (PhD student), Denise Holsberger (post-doc), and Sarah Kiesewetter (undergraduate); rear: Dr. Paul Cooke, Dan Lotorco (PhD student), Vimal Selvaraj (M.S. student).

Dr. Cooke and his research team are endocrinologists who study early development and growth. Their work with gene knockout mice—mice with one or two genes missing—has proved fruitful for investigating the physiological roles of various genes. Of particular interest are gene knockouts that regulate cell growth. With one gene missing, the mice grew a little bigger than normal; with two genes missing, the mice grew as big as a rat.

“The genes function to shut off growth at the appropriate time,” he says. “Without them, the normal cell cycle (mitosis) is disrupted, cell division keeps going, and the animal gets bigger and bigger.”

Seven people work in Dr. Cooke’s lab, including three graduate students, one post-doc, one technician, and two undergraduates. He says their hard work often goes unheralded, but Dr. Cooke appreciates them.

“A large research group consumes a lot of resources,” he notes. “I provide the framework, ideas, and write grants for the National Institutes of Health. I am essentially the fundraiser, while they are working hard in the lab, researching and churning out data.”

In addition to doing research, Dr. Cooke enjoys teaching endocrinology to first-year veterinary students. He takes pleasure in watching the students evolve throughout their four years in the curriculum.

“I feel gratified knowing I’ve had a hand in the teaching process,” he says. “We are proud of the graduates from this college.”

Dr. Cooke was promoted to associate professor in 1993 and to professor in 1998. In addition, he was a University Scholar from 1997 to 2000, received the Levine Award for Research Excellence in 1993, and has appeared numerous times on the list of teachers ranked excellent. His other awards include the Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence (2001), the Young Andrologist Award (1996) from the American Society of Andrology, and the National Research Service Award from the NIH from 1984 to 1987.

In service to the College Dr. Cooke chairs the morphology division in veterinary biosciences and serves on the executive committee, promotion and tenure committee, and discipline committee.

Dr. Cooke lectures on endocrinology around the globe. He has presented at meetings in Brazil, India, Australia, Japan, and all over Europe. Going to six or seven places a year has made traveling his hobby by default.

He often brings his family, which includes his wife, 9-year-old daughter, and 6-year-old son. He enjoys traveling much more when his family can join him for a little sightseeing.

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