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UCI Health physician Dan Cooper named 2015 Pediatrician of the Year

Peers recognize clinical and research excellence in work on childhood exercise, obesity

March 12, 2015

Dan M. Cooper, MD, chairman of the UCI Health Department of Pediatrics.

Photo: Steve Zylius/UC Irvine

Dan M. Cooper, MD, chairman of the UCI Health Department of Pediatrics and a nationally renowned researcher on childhood exercise, obesity and diabetes, has been named 2015 Pediatrician of the Year by the Orange County Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Cooper has been chair of UC Irvine’s pediatrics department since 2012 and is director of UCI’s Institute for Clinical & Translational Science, which is funded by a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The ICTS goal is to hasten the transformation of scientific discoveries into medical advances for patients.

“I am humbled by this singular recognition from my peers here in Orange County,” said Cooper, a professor in the UC Irvine School of Medicine and associate dean for clinical and translational sciences.  “This award belongs not to me but to the dedicated faculty of the Department of Pediatrics at UC Irvine and CHOC Children’s hospital. I have had the privilege of learning from so many talented physicians, scientists, nurses, health care professionals, and, of course, from the children we care for and their families. Inspired by them, I have been privileged to devote so much of my energy to exploring fundamental issues of child health and translating these discoveries to improve the health of all people in our community and beyond.”

Cooper has been a member of the UC Irvine faculty since 1997. He holds dual certifications from the American Board of Pediatrics in pediatrics and in pediatric pulmonology. As chief academic officer at CHOC Children’s, Cooper plays a key role in the affiliation between UC Irvine and CHOC Children’s, with oversight of research and educational activities.

“This is a prestigious honor, granted to active pediatricians in Orange County who have made strong contributions to our chapter,” said Letitia Clark George, executive director of the Orange County Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Candidates for the award are nominated by a pediatrician’s peers and selected by the chapter’s board of directors, which is comprised of 11 local physicians.

In addition to the translational studies grant, Cooper has been the principal investigator for numerous NIH grants, including Project HEALTHY, the largest school-based study ever supported by the NIH to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes in children.  His research team in the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center focuses on how exercise and physical activity can be used to improve child health in growing children and adolescents. Ongoing projects are focused on improving the lives of children with asthma, ensuring that children with disabilities can engage in sports and exercise as fully as possible, and providing novel ways to optimize health in children who survive often deadly chronic diseases such as leukemia. 

In October, Cooper was invited to the White House Summit & Research Forum on Improved Health & Fitness for Americans with Disabilities where he addressed the benefits of clinically tested exercise regimens for children with chronic diseases and disabilities.

Cooper will be recognized at the chapter’s annual gala on April 18, 2015 at the Orange County Medical Association Conference Center, 17322 Murphy Ave., Irvine, CA 92614. 

UCI Health comprises the clinical, medical education and research enterprises of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at physician offices throughout Orange County and at its main campus, UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Calif., a 411-bed acute care hospital that provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, behavioral health and rehabilitation. U.S. News & World Report has listed it among America’s Best Hospitals for 14 consecutive years. UC Irvine Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program, Level I trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center, and is the primary teaching hospital for UC Irvine School of Medicine. UCI Health serves a region of more than 3 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the University of California, Irvine: Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.