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Cardiovascular regenerative cell expert Cooke to join Methodist faculty

Houston, TX - 3/4/2013

John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., a renowned expert on the use of stem cells to repair blood vessels, has agreed to join The Methodist Hospital faculty as chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Regeneration at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center.  He starts work July 1.

Cooke is currently an associate director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he will continue to maintain collaborative relationships.

As head of the Cardiovascular Research Program, Cooke will grow translational and basic medical research for three divisions of the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center (MDHVC) -- cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, and cardiovascular anesthesia and critical care. Cooke will also be a member of MDHVC's cardiology staff.

"Dr. Cooke is a preeminent researcher in cardiovascular disease currently focusing on non-viral based stem cell differentiation," said MDHVC Medical Director Alan Lumsden, M.D. "In addition to this role he will have a major leadership position in directing and developing research within Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center."

Cooke's group is working to perfect the method by which the cells lining blood vessels are created from stem cells, and they are also studying how these cells can be used to heal damaged blood vessels. Cooke is funded by the National Institutes of Health to perform clinical trials of adult stem cells for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Previously, Cooke discovered that nicotine can speed up the growth of abnormal blood vessels in atherosclerotic plaques, cancers, and age-related macular degeneration. His research group has developed therapies for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and angiogenesis (the formation of abnormal blood vessels during healing or the growth of cancers).

Cooke has authored or coauthored more than 350 articles and has filed 29 patents based on discoveries from his laboratory. He is a former president and Master of the Society of Vascular Medicine and is an American Heart Association Established Investigator. Cooke is the project leader on four active NIH grants totaling over $2 million annually.

"John has been a highly productive and cherished member of our faculty, for his creative scholarship and thoughtful mentorship," said Robert Harrington, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine at Stanford, and co-director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. "We are happy that he will continue to actively collaborate with our scientific community."

Cooke, who received an M.D. from Wayne State University and a Ph.D. from the Mayo Clinic, has been an advisor to government, industry, and professional societies on matters of cardiovascular disease, public health, and technology development. Among those who have sought his counsel are the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

"John Cooke brings immense benefits to Methodist," said Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., president and CEO of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute. "He truly understands the team approach to science, is entrepreneurial, and his innovative, translational, transformative clinical trials show he is thoroughly committed to patients. Through John, Methodist will be establishing new collaborative relationships with Stanford's school of medicine, and we hope John in turn will find new opportunities for collaboration with Methodist faculty and with clinician researchers at our primary academic partner, the Weill Cornell Medical College."

Ferrari says Cooke's research in regenerative medicine could have far-reaching impacts on laboratories throughout The Methodist Hospital System, spanning cardiovascular and pulmonary sciences, urology, and orthopedics.

To speak with Cooke, Lumsden, or Ferrari, please contact David Bricker, The Methodist Hospital System, at 832-667-5811 or dmbricker@tmhs.org.