John P. Cooke

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John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Medicine, and Associate Director (Education and Training), Stanford Cardiovascular Institute. Prior to the creation of the institute in 2007 he was Professor of Medicine and Director of the Program in Vascular Biology and Medicine at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, a position he has held since 1995. [1] The Program in Vascular Biology and Medicine is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "the American Heart Association and industry." [2]

The Cooke lab is interested in angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels. While angiogenesis is necessary for many normal processes including wound healing, it may also play a role in disease. For example, a tumor can enlarge and spread when it causes the body to send it blood vessels. Abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye can cause blindness, because these abnormal vessels often leak fluid or blood into the eye. Dr. Cooke's lab has found that nicotine can cause angiogenesis. This may explain the link between tobacco and tumor, as well as the link between tobacco and eye disease. [3]


Cooke completed a PH. D in Physiology at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Rochester, MN in 1985 and trained in cardiovascular medicine there between 1980 and 1987.[4] Between 1987 and 1990 he was Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Between 1990 and 1995 he was Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. [5]

Cooke has authored or co-authored over 280 research articles, abstracts, book reviews, book chapters. He has authored or co-authored five books and co-authored 19 patents. He has been a member of numerous national and international committees and task forces relating to heart disease. He is also a member of the editorial boards of a number of medical journals, including the Journal of Vascular Medicine and Biology, Circulation, the Journal of Cardiac Disease Prevention, the Journal of the International Society of Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy, the American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs and the Korean Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases. [6]

Between 1983 and 2001 Cooke worked on a 35 research projects, including ones funded by the NIH, the American Heart Association, the Scleroderma Foundation, General Mills and a range of drug companies including Merck (and its successor Merck, Sharp & Dohme), Abbott Laboratories, Sanofi, Scios, Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals and Upjohn. Since 2002 Cooke has worked on eight research grants; six of these have been NIH projects, one a University of California "Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program" and one funded by Philip Morris (PM). [7] Other current projects include a lecture series for staff of Medtronics, a medical technology company; a project for Quintiles and a clinical trial for the biotechnology company, Genzyme.

Research Funded By Philip Morris

His research program has been funded in part by the Philip Morris External Research Program (PMERP), a research program that replaced two previous tobacco industry-wide research organizations long considered to have been front groups for the industry: the Center for Indoor Air Research and the Council for Tobacco Research. These two previous groups were forced to disband as a requirement of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the major American tobacco companies and 46 U.S. states. Authors of a paper reviewing PMERP concluded "that a prime reason for PMERP's existence was to garner scientific credibility for PM." [8]

After publishing a paper on nicotine and angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) in 2001 in Nature Medicine, Cooke applied for and received funding from PMERP.

In May of 2000, a tobacco industry publication, the Tobacco Reporter, ran an article titled "Healing Weed: New research shows that certain tobacco compounds have therapeutic qualities." The article described supposed health benefits derived from tobacco. It cites work done by Cooke at Stanford University on this count and cites him as stating in a media release,

We went into our research suspecting strongly that nicotine might play a negative role, that it would prevent the growth of new blood vessels. In doing our experiments, we were surprised to find that nicotine, which is usually considered harmful, did the opposite... It actually had a potent therapeutic effect on the enhancement and growth of new blood vessels in cases of ischemic (oxygen-starved) vessels. The paradoxical results caused a shift in our thinking. [9]

On June 1, 2001, PMERP granted Stanford University $268,881 to support a research study by Cooke titled "Nicotine Enhances Vessel Formation". The total estimated amount to be paid for the entire study was $831,590. [10] [11] [12]

In an April 4, 2002 email to Cooke, Raymond Schleef, the head of PMI's R&D department's Cardiovascular lab in Germany (INBIFO), noted that his interest in nicotine and angiogenesis "closely matches your group's focus, especially the data described in your recent Nature Medicine manuscript". [13] Schleef arranged for a personal meeting with Cooke over this topic. [14] Cooke has described this as a passing contact, can't remember the meeting but that there has been no ongoing contact. [15]

In May 2007 the San Jose Mercury News reported that because of the controversy over funding, Cooke agreed to end his grant from PM in June 2007. "All my career, I've been telling people to stop smoking," Cooke said. "But for me, the moral issue is that whatever accelerates our understanding of disease is good. And whatever impedes our ability to do research is bad." [16] While Cooke has backed away from further tobacco industry funded research, Stanford University maintains a policy of being willing to accept project funding. (For further information on Stanford University's policy on tobacco industry funding of research projects see Stanford University Policy on Tobacco Industry Funding).



John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D.
Title: Professor of Medicine
Falk Cardiovascular Research Center
300 Pasteur Drive
Stanford, CA 94305
Phone: (650) 725-3778

Book and Other Publications

  • John P. Cooke, M.D., Ph.D. and Judith Zimmer, The Cardiovascular Cure: How to Strengthen Your Self Defense Against Heart Attack and Stroke, RandomHouse, August 2003. ISBN-10: 0767908821 ISBN-13: 978-0767908825
  • "John Cooke, MD, PhD Publications", accessed November 2007.

Other SourceWatch Resources


  1. "John Cooke, MD, PhD", Stanford School of Medicine, accessed May 2007.
  2. Note Email from Cooke to SourceWatch Editor Bob Burton, November 2007.
  3. C. Heeschen,J. Jang, V. Hoai-Ky, S. Kaji, P. Yang, R.S. Hu, J.P. Cooke, "Nicotine is an agent of angiogenesis. Nicotine stimulates angiogenesis and promotes tumor growth and atherosclerosis. Nat Med 2001 Jul; 7(7):833-9).
  4. "NIH Biosketch Doc", accessed November 2007.
  5. "National Institutes of Health Biographical Sketch", undated, accessed May 2007.
  6. "Biographical and Bibliographic Information", April 2007.
  7. "Biographical and Bibliographic Information", accessed November 2007.
  8. Norbert Hirschhorn, S Aguinaga Bialous and Stan Shatenstein, "The Philip Morris External Research Program: results from the first round of projects", Volume 15, Tobacco Control 2006, pp. 267-269.
  9. Brandy Fisher, "Healing Weed: New research show that certain tobacco compounds have therapeutic qualities", Tobacco Reporter, Bates Number: 531290150, May 2000. (This clipping is on pages 22-23).
  10. Philip Morris, "External Research Agreement Between Stanford University and Philip Morris Incorporated, Bates Number: 2085530773, June 1, 2001.
  11. Julie O'Neill (Stanford University), "RE: PMERP", Bates Number: 2085530761, January 25, 2002. (This is an e-mail from O'Neill to PM USA but in the email chain includes a note from Cooke regarding the project).
  12. Stanford University, "Invoice to Philip Morris External Research Program", Bates Number: 2085530757, February 1, 2002.
  13. Roger.A. Walk, Meeting Concerning Angiogenesis , Philip Morris, Bates Number 2067227592, April 29, 2002.
  14. Roger.A. Walk, "Angiogenesis", Philip Morris, Bates Number 2067227602, March 28, 2002.
  15. Email to SourceWatch editor Bob Burton, November 2007.
  16. Lisa M. Krieger, "Stanford divided on tobacco dollars: top academics debate use of industry money", San Jose Mercury News, May 6, 2007.

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