Meet Dr. Chuck Cooper, Chief Medical Officer for Laboratory Diagnostics
July 14, 2022 | 5-minute read
Dr. Chuck Cooper serves as Chief Medical Officer for the Laboratory Diagnostics business of Siemens Healthineers. With more than 25 years in clinical practice, tenure as a Deputy Director within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, and experience in medical device and in vitro diagnostics manufacturing, Chuck has a unique 360-degree perspective of the industry. A recognized expert in infectious diseases, Chuck gained extensive clinical experience at the height of the AIDS crisis, and across emerging infectious diseases in the years since. He holds his M.D. from Georgetown University and continues clinical practice today.
What’s the value of medical affairs in the diagnostics industry?
An active participant in the scientific process, medical affairs is very externally focused. It’s through interaction and collaboration with key opinion leaders that we’re able to bring insights back to the company and inform innovation. We help the company gauge the utility to clinical care of a variety of possible diagnostic solutions. Specifically, we explore how these solutions fit within the context of medical practice.
Communicating the significance and practical application of our innovations to healthcare providers, healthcare systems, hospital networks, the FDA, professional societies, payers, and other stakeholders is an important part of what we do. And it really comes down to providing evidence that will lead to the successful adoption of a product in a way that will benefit patients. It's important to understand that when we talk about innovative diagnostics, we’re really talking about changing the practice of medicine.
How does medical affairs address the needs of lab professionals and clinicians?
Lab professionals and clinicians are both important stakeholders. In the lab, workflow, usability, reliability, and informatics lead to greater efficiency and quality. But clinicians are focused on trying to use diagnostic information, ultimately, to improve patient care and outcomes.
To ensure we fully understand both perspectives, our medical affairs team has former lab directors and physicians. We have a neurologist, a critical care physician—and I’m an infectious disease specialist. We tap into all areas of expertise across our department to inform innovation and product development—so our solutions meet the needs of those working in the lab and with the patient.
Tell us about Chuck Cooper.
I’m married and a proud father with three sons—the youngest having just graduated from college. My wife, Cristine, is an artist—an oil painter. Whenever we travel, we look for opportunities to visit different museums, which has led us to see a lot of interesting things and has been a lot of fun.
We also like hiking and have been to some of the most majestic peaks and preserves in the world. We’re always looking for climbs wherever we go—they’ve often been unbelievably beautiful.
How did you decide on infectious disease as a specialty?
I went to the University of Virginia for pre-med. After graduation, while still in Charlottesville, I developed a fever with fatigue and large golf ball-sized masses on my neck. I went to the ER, but the doctors weren’t sure what it was. Initially, they were concerned about things like Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. So I went home to Northern Virginia, and my dad, a physician, sent me to an infectious disease specialist at Fairfax Hospital.
As soon as I walked in the door, without him even really examining me, the doctor said, “You have mononucleosis.” I thought that was just the coolest display of medical intellect that I’d ever seen—to be able to figure it out so quickly. From that moment, I knew I wanted to be an infectious disease doctor. I also was influenced by the AIDS crisis. When I was in medical school—just at the peak of HIV in terms of its impact on society—I was caring for many young patients who were dying from AIDS. And there was nothing that we could do about it. But there were also many discoveries about HIV emerging. So, it was an unprecedented time, albeit highly emotional, to be working in the field.
How do your experiences working as a doctor and within the IVD industry differ?
I have a clinic outside Washington, DC, where I still provide outpatient care for people with HIV and other infectious diseases, including hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, and even tuberculosis. I’ve been at the clinic for almost 15 years, so I’ve known many of my patients for a long time and have developed relationships with them. Many share with me their thanks for the care I’ve provided—and that’s very rewarding on a personal level.
At the FDA—and now at Siemens Healthineers—the work doesn’t have that kind of warm, fuzzy, personal feel. But we have the ability to impact people on the population level. To be part of a group that introduces entirely innovative technologies that positively impact the care of patients across the population is a unique opportunity and rewarding experience. Changing the practice of medicine in a way that benefits patients is really pretty amazing.
I’m fortunate to work in two very different settings—one where I can help individuals on a first-hand basis, and the other where I can influence public health through the work we do at Siemens Healthineers. There’s no question—both are equally meaningful and fulfilling.
What do you hope to accomplish at AACC?
Venues such as AACC are incredible opportunities for us to share with scientists, clinicians, and laboratorians from around the world. Certainly, we want to connect with, build, and maintain relationships with others in this same space. I’m especially looking forward to meeting customers and listening to what they have to say – this year, we’ll have a dedicated Medical Affairs space at the Siemens Healthineers exhibit.
Dr. Chuck Cooper,
Chief Medical Officer, Laboratory Diagnostics
Dr. Cooper and his wife Cristine.
Watch Dr. Cooper live at AACC 2022
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