Zola K. Cooper (1904 - 1954)

Zola K. Cooper

Born in 1904, Zola Katharine Cooper received her A.B. (1925), M.S. (1926), and Ph.D. (1929) from Washington University. After working as a research associate and associate pathologist at the Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital for several years, Cooper joined the faculty of the Washington University School of Medicine as an instructor in Pathology in 1940. For the next six years as she taught and worked in the pathology lab, she became well-known among dermatologists throughout the country as an authority on dermatopathology. In 1947 Cooper accepted a position as assistant professor in the Histology Department at the University of Oklahoma. She stayed in Oklahoma only two years, returning to Washington University in 1949 as an assistant professor of Pathology. Cooper was considered the patron saint of dermatology residents in St. Louis – she set up special study and coaching session for both the Washington University and St. Louis University residents to assist them in passing the pathology section of their Board examinations. For much of 1953 and 1954 Cooper was helping plan and coordinate a dermatopathology seminar as part of the Southern Medical Association Meeting that was scheduled for the late fall of 1954 in St. Louis. Cooper was to have served as the first guest moderator. However, she was found dead of a cerebral hemorrhage in her apartment on October 23, 1954, two days prior to the start of the meeting. The Southern Medical Association named the yearly Zola Cooper Seminar in her honor. In 2002 the Zola Cooper Seminar dissociated with the Southern Medical Association. The Zola Cooper Clinical and Dermatopathologic Seminar is now an independent educational organization designed to promote continuous excellence in the field of clinical dermatology and dermatopathology.