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Joel D. Cooper, M.D.

Dr. Cooper
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Joel D. Cooper

Thoracic Surgeon

University of Pennsylvania Health System

Sixth Floor, Silverstein Building, 3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 662-2022

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Harvard College

Harvard Medical School - 1964

Massachusetts General Hospital and Pennsylvania Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Joel Cooper serves as Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia and Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in general thoracic surgery and is known for his expertise in treating a variety of diseases that affect the chest, lungs, esophagus, and trachea, including lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma.

Educational Background

Dr. Cooper obtained his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Following medical school, Dr. Cooper completed extensive post graduate training and fellowship appointments both in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital and in England at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol and Hammersmith Hospital in London.

Clinical and Laboratory Research

Dr. Cooper is credited with completing the first successful single-lung transplant in 1983 while working at the University of Toronto. After taking part in the 44th failed attempt at lung transplantation in the late 1970s, Dr. Cooper enlisted the support of his colleagues and a team of international research fellows to conduct a series of experiments aimed at identifying why previous lung transplant surgeries were failing. Dr. Cooper and his team discovered that the immunosuppressant drug prednisone was interfering with the healing process. Thus, Dr. Cooper chose to use omentum and cyclosporin in place of prednisone and with that, he was not only able to achieve a successful lung transplant, but he created a procedure that was reproducible and beneficial to lung patients worldwide for years to come.

When everybody failed, Joel never gave up on making the dream of lung transplantation a reality. Thousands of lung patients are alive because of Joel’s contributions.

Shaf Keshavjee, M.D.
Surgeon in Chief at (Toronto) University Heath Network
Director, Toronto Lung Transplant Program

Additionally, Dr. Cooper is responsible for directing the first successful double-lung transplants in 1986 and 1987. Throughout his career, he has completed extensive research and numerous studies in the areas of lung volume reduction surgery, lung transplantation, and lung ventilation.

Additional Work

Dr. Cooper is a member of several professional organizations and societies, among them the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American Thoracic Society, American Surgical Association, and the Society of University Surgeons.


Dr. Cooper is the author of over 400 published medical articles and has served as a contributing editor for many scientific journals.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari

Reviewer: Annette Charlevois

Patient Support Coordinator

Annette Charlevois

University of Pennsylvania Health System

The American Thoracic Society

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