In Memoriam: Ryan Cook: A Pioneering Giant in Our Specialty
Myron Yaster MD Peter J. Davis MD
Franklyn P Cladis, Christine L Mai, Myron Yaster, Peter J Davis. The advancement of pediatric anesthesia pharmacology: David Ryan Cook (scions, serendipity, and six degrees of separation). Paediatr Anaesth 2019 Feb;29(2):114-119.PMID: 30414345
We lost a pioneering giant and dear friend this weekend, Dr. David Ryan Cook, Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh and Chief of Anesthesiology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (1977-1999). A pioneer in the field of pediatric anesthesiology and pharmacology. Ryan contributed significantly to the understanding of pharmacologic differences among infants, children, and adults. His work as a clinician-scientist, educator, and mentor defined the pharmacology of many of the anesthetic agents we continue to use today. He brought science to the art of anesthesia and enhanced the safety of pediatric perioperative care.
In addition to excelling as a clinician‐researcher, Ryan was also an administrator, educator, and leader. He was a “doctor’s doctor.” He contributed to the training of hundreds of residents and fellows in anesthesiology and pediatrics, including both of us (Myron Yaster and Peter Davis) and Carol Lake. Although impossible to name all of the folks he trained, it would be impossible for us to not mention Drs. Larry Borland, Susan Woelfel, Barbara Brandom, Franklyn Cladis, and Frank McGowan. In 2009, he was recognized for his contributions to the field of pediatric anesthesiology with the Robert M. Smith award from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
On a more personal note, anyone who has ever met Dr. Cook knows of his legendary wit and humor. He was a master story‐teller, with a low bull shit tolerance level, who kept the audience on the edge of their seat asking, “what happens next?” His wise and sage advice from years of experience are best summarized in a few of his “words of wisdom” over a fine cigar and cognac. As we write this, we can still hear his laugh.
We would urge all of you to read our interview with him published in the J Paediatric Anaesthesia as part of the ongoing history project. Based on a 2017 interview with Ryan, this article outlines the development of his career and his contributions to the field of anesthesiology and pharmacology.