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Class Notes

Progressive Pediatrician

Cooke transformed health care for children.

A visionary head of the Department of Pediatrics and director of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center from 1956 to 1973, Robert E. Cooke dramatically transformed child health care not only at Hopkins but nationwide.

Cooke died on February 2 at his Martha’s Vineyard home. He was 93.

George Dover, current head of the Children’s Center, called Cooke “one of the most progressive and influential pediatricians in America.”

Cooke helped write the federal law that created what now is the Kennedy-Krieger Institute and dozens of other academically affiliated clinical and teaching facilities for mentally and physically challenged youngsters. He led the development of Head Start, and he was a key figure in the emergence of bioethics and a passionate advocate for improving the care and valuing the lives of those with intellectual disabilities.

At Hopkins, Cooke oversaw the move from the original Harriet Lane Home to the Children’s Medical and Surgical Center, home of the children’s hospital from 1964 to 2012; spearheaded construction of the Edwards A. Park Building for outpatient services and the Comprehensive Child Care Center, a pioneering children’s trauma unit; and brought out the first pocket-size edition of the Harriet Lane Handbook.  

Progressive Pediatrician