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David Y. Cooper

by Susan J. Ainsworth
February 10, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 6

David Y. Cooper, 88, an emeritus professor of surgery at the Harrison Department of Surgical Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, died in Gladwyne, Pa., on Aug. 2, 2013.

A native of Henderson, N.C., Cooper earned a B.S. in medicine from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1946 and an M.D. from UPenn in 1948. He completed his internship and residency in surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and held a research fellowship in the Harrison department.

While serving in the Naval Reserve from 1943 until 1958 and on assignment at the Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Cooper codeveloped a method of resuscitation to manage respiratory paralysis in soldiers who had inhaled nerve gas.

He was appointed to the faculty of the Harrison department in 1959. Cooper devoted his career to studying cytochrome P-450, defining its function as an oxygen-activating enzyme for many microsomal reactions and studying its role in drug metabolism.

Having a keen interest in medical history, he coauthored the book “Innovation and Tradition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine: An Anecdotal Journey.” Cooper also taught medical history to undergraduates at UPenn. He retired in 2004.

Cooper was a member of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi, and the New York Academy of Sciences. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1962.

Photography, travel, and U.S. history were among his many interests.

Cooper is survived by his wife, Cynthia; daughters, Lucy Karlsson and Allison Hamilton; and four grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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