Autumn 2007

Portrait of Lisa Cooper

Genius: Lisa Cooper’s research focuses on improving medical care for minorities.

Courtesy the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Moral Minority

Emory alumna and minority health researcher Lisa Cooper wins MacArthur

Lisa Cooper 84C, a physician and public health researcher who studies ways to overcome racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in medical care and research, has been named a 2007 fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The fellowship comes with a $500,000 “genius” grant.

Cooper, who lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband and son, is a professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and in the division of general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

Her work focuses on improving medical outcomes for minorities. In one study, she and her colleagues found that African American patients treated by African American physicians were far more assertive and felt more involved in their own care than those treated by white physicians, suggesting that providing patients with access to a diverse group of physicians may lead to improved health.

Cooper was born in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, where her father was a surgeon and her mother was a research librarian. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Emory in 1984.

“I grew up around people from a lot of different backgrounds,” Cooper says. “Throughout my career, I’ve strived to understand how patients and physicians from different backgrounds can learn to relate and work with each other to achieve better care.” She hopes through the MacArthur grant to extend her research internationally. The MacArthur Foundation selects fellows on the basis of exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances, and potential for subsequent creative work.

Vice President and Secretary of the University Rosemary Magee 82G taught Cooper in a writing course while she was at Emory.

“Through her class assignments, all of us learned about Liberia,” Magee said. “Her work continues to speak to the values of Emory, and we take enormous pride in who she is and what she has accomplished.”

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Autumn 2007

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