John Esten Cooke, M.D.

  • Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine, 1837-1844

John Esten Cooke, M.D.
John Esten Cooke, M.D.
John Esten Cooke, M.D., the oldest son of Stephen Cooke, a surgeon of the Revolutionary War, began studying medicine as an apprentice to his father in Alexandria, Virginia.

He then attended the University of Pennsylvania, earning his MD in 1805.

For a while, he practiced in Virginia, and then took the chair of theory and practice of medicine at Transylvania University in 1827.

There, he published a thousand-page Treatise on Pathology and Therapeutics (1828) and co-edited the Transylvania Journal of Medicine and the Associated Sciences.

After ten years, he moved to Louisville and helped found the Louisville Medical Institute, forerunner of the University of Louisville and was chairman of the theory and practice of medicine there until 1844.

As a theorist, he supported the universal origin of disease and recommended catharsis and bleeding as cures.

He has been called "the grand high priest of calomel," and in one case of cholera gave one pound of calomel in 24 hours without fatal results. His own remedy, Cooke's pills, was famous in Kentucky and consisted of equal parts calomel, aloe and rhubarb.

- Written by Daryll Anderson