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David K.C. Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.

Transplantation • Xenotransplantation • Nephrology • Cardiology • Diabetes

Contact: Adam Pope, 

david cooper experts2017David K.C. Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Transplantion Surgery


Areas of expertise:

  • Transplantation
  • Xenotransplantation
  • Nephrology
  • Cardiology
  • Diabetes



Cooper is the co-director of UAB’s Xenotransplant Program. Following 17 years as a surgeon-scientist — where he was present at the first heart transplant in the United Kingdom in 1968, and was a member of the team that initiated the heart transplant program at Papworth Hospital in 1979 — Cooper decided to concentrate on research after he and his colleagues at the Oklahoma Transplantation Institute identified the importance of the Gal antigen in xenotransplantation in 1987. He conducted additional xenotransplant research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and then at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute.

UAB scientists believe whole organ transplants from genetically modified pigs are possible in the near future if immunological and physiological barriers can be overcome. The first step is kidneys, but possibilities also exist in pig islet transplantation in patients with diabetes; neuronal cell transplants for patients with certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s; corneal transplantation; and eventually in providing pig red blood cells for transfusion into humans, particularly in areas where the availability of human blood is limited.



Media appearances:



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