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Cyrus Cooper


Professor of Musculoskeletal Science, University of Oxford

  • Professor of Rheumatology and Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit
  • Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton

Professor Cooper graduated from the University of Cambridge and St Bartholomew's Hospital, London in 1980, and completed his residency in 1985 at the Southampton University Hospitals.

In 1990, he won an MRC Travelling Fellowship to the Mayo Clinic, USA, where he continued his research in osteoporosis.

He returned to the UK in 1992 to take up a position as Senior Lecturer in Rheumatology and MRC Senior Clinical Scientist. He was promoted to the foundation Chair in Rheumatology at the University of Southampton in 1997 while continuing as an MRC Senior Clinical Scientist at the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit; in 2003 he was appointed Director of the MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton.

In 2010, this was reconfigured as the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit; quinquennial funding has been extended from 2015 to 2020.

Professor Cooper leads an internationally competitive programme of research into the epidemiology of musculoskeletal disorders, most notably osteoporosis.

His key research contributions have been:

  1. discovery of the developmental influences which contribute to the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture in late adulthood; 
  2. demonstration that maternal vitamin D insufficiency is associated with sub-optimal bone mineral accrual in childhood; 
  3. characterisation of the definition and incidence rates of vertebral fractures; 
  4. leadership of large pragmatic randomised controlled trials of calcium and vitamin D supplementation in the elderly as immediate preventative strategies against hip fracture. 

Professor Cooper is Chairman of the Committee of Scientific Advisors, International Osteoporosis Foundation; Chair of the Arthritis Research UK Clinical Studies Initiative; Chair of the BHF Project Grants Committee; Vice-Dean at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton Medical School; an NIHR Senior Investigator; and Associate Editor of Osteoporosis International.

He has previously served as Chairman of the MRC Population Health Sciences Research Network; Chairman of the National Osteoporosis Society of Great Britain; past-President of the Bone Research Society of Great Britain; and has worked on numerous Department of Health, European Community and World Health Organisation committees and working groups.

He has published extensively (over 750 research papers) on osteoporosis and rheumatic disorders and pioneered clinical studies on the developmental origins of peak bone mass.

In 2015, he was awarded an OBE for services to medical research.