Mary Ann Cooper, MD, took her BS in Biochemistry from Michigan State University in 1971 and continued at MSU for her medical degree in 1975. Her residency training was in Emergency Medicine (1978) at the University of Cincinnati, the first emergency medicine program in the US. During her residency she developed an interest in electrical injuries and progressed to lightning injuries for which she is now considered one of the world's experts in this narrow field.
She remains a practicing emergency physician and senior faculty member at the University of Illinois Hospital. In addition to seeing general emergency patients in the emergency department, teaching medical students, residents, serving as a senior faculty member on university and medical school committees, she directs the Lightning Injury Research Program. Her research interests span prevention to clinical interventions to development of an animal model of lightning injury. In addition to Emergency Medicine, her primary specialty, she also holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Bioengineering (though not trained as a neurologist or engineer).
The Lightning Injury Research Program at the University of Illinois conducts basic research into the cellular mechanisms of lightning injury. It also attempts to foster public understanding and recognition of the injury by participating in documentaries and media interviews, to network inquirers and lightning victims and their families, to work with individual physicians for the benefit of their patients, to communicate with other lightning researchers (meteorologists, physicists, engineers, etc.), and to encourage injury prevention.Among Dr. Cooper's awards, two stand out as her favorites:
1. A Special Recognition Award from the Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, International, support group for 'wisdom, mercy, gentility, and humanity' in serving on their board of directors, initiating an endowment fund and gathering donations for it, publicizing the group and providing support, advice, and guidance for the officers and members of the organization.
2. A "Special Award" from the American Meteorological Association "for outstanding work on the medical effects of lightning which has enhanced the treatment of lightning strike victims and revolutionized lightning safety worldwide."
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Dr. Cooper is married and the mother of two grade school children. She is active in school and church activities as well as being part of the 'sandwich generation' with responsibility for her elderly parents.