Max D. Cooper, M.D.

Emory University
Recruited: 2008

Max Cooper is considered one of the most influential immunologists in the world. His landmark discoveries provided a framework for understanding how white blood cells normally combat infection – and how they can undergo abnormal development to cause immune deficiencies, leukemia, lymphomas and autoimmune diseases.
One of his earliest discoveries — that two distinct types of white blood cells, now known as T and B lymphocytes, play separate but complementary roles in defending against infections — established one of the most important organizing principles of the immune system. Video >
Cooper’s work also contributed to the medical knowledge that enabled transplants of bone marrow stem cells to treat blood cell cancers. His move to Georgia has helped GRA recruit other world-class scientists to the state.


  • Hemopoietic stem cell differentiation along lymphoid and myeloid pathways. This research provides information on normal development of cells belonging to the immune system, which is then used for analysis and treatment of individuals with immune deficiencies and with malignancies of the immune system.
  • The life history of B and T cells, and how their development may go awry.
  • The role of immunoglobulin and non-immunoglobulin genes in B cell development.
  • Evolution of the adaptive immune system.
  • Biomedical uses for ‘ancient’ antibodies made by a jawless fish.

Choosing Georgia

GRA made repeated trips to visit with Cooper at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he had spent 40 years of his career. Cooper was convinced to come to Georgia to work with colleagues at the Emory Vaccine Center.

Intellectual Property

1 patent