Robin Cook (American novelist)

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Dr. Robin Cook
Robin Cook in Warsaw (2008)
Robin Cook in Warsaw (2008)
Born (1940-05-04) May 4, 1940 (age 78)
New York City
Occupation Author, Ophthalmologist, Aquanaut
Genre Fiction, Medical Thriller

Dr. Robin Cook (born Robert Brian Cook on May 4, 1940 in New York City)[1] is an American physician and novelist who writes about medicine and topics affecting public health.

He is best known for combining medical writing with the thriller genre. Many of his books have been bestsellers on the New York Times Bestseller List. Several of his books have also been featured in Reader's Digest. His books have sold nearly 100 million copies.[2]


Cook grew up in Queens, New York, and moved to Leonia, New Jersey when he was eight, where he could first have the "luxury" of having his own room.[3]

Cook is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He finished his postgraduate medical training at Harvard.[4] He divides his time between homes in Boston and Naples, Florida where he lives with his wife, Jean, and son. He is currently on leave from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He has successfully combined medical fact with fantasy to produce a succession of bestselling books. Cook's medical thrillers are designed, in part, to keep the public aware of both the technological possibilities of modern medicine and the ensuing ethical problems.

Cook ran the Cousteau Society's blood-gas lab in the south of France. He later became an aquanaut with the U.S. Navy's SEALAB program when he was drafted in 1969.[5] Cook served in the Navy from 1969 to 1971, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander. He wrote his first novel, The Year of the Intern, while serving on the Polaris submarine USS Kamehameha.[1]

Cook is a private member of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, led by chairman Joseph B. Gildenhorn, are appointed to six-year terms by the President of the United States.[6]


Cook's novels have anticipated national controversy. Interviewer Stephen McDonald talked to him about his novel Shock; Cook admits the timing of Shock was fortuitous. "I suppose that you could say that it's the most like Coma in that it deals with an issue that everybody seems to be concerned about," he says, "I wrote this book to address the stem cell issue, which the public really doesn't know anything about. Besides entertaining readers, my main goal is to get people interested in some of these issues, because it's the public that ultimately really should decide which way we ought to go in something as ethically questioning as stem cell research."[7]

To date, he has explored issues such as organ donation, genetic engineering, fertility treatment, in – vitro fertilization, research funding, managed care, medical malpractice, medical tourism, drug research, and organ transplantation.[8]

I joke that if my books stop selling, I can always fall back on brain surgery," he says. "But I am still very interested in it. If I had to do it over again, I would still study medicine. I think of myself more as a doctor who writes, rather than a writer who happens to be a doctor." He explained the popularity of his works thus: "The main reason is, we all realize we are at risk. We're all going to be patients sometime," he says. "You can write about great white sharks or haunted houses, and you can say I'm not going into the ocean or I'm not going in haunted houses, but you can't say you're not going to go into a hospital.

— [7]

Cook says he chose to write thrillers because the forum gives him "an opportunity to get the public interested in things about medicine that they didn't seem to know about. I believe my books are actually teaching people."[8]

The author admits he never thought that he would have such compelling material to work with when he began writing fiction in 1970. "If I tried to be the writer I am today a number of years ago, I wouldn't have very much to write about. But today, with the pace of change in biomedical research, there are any number of different issues, and new ones to come," he says.[7]

Film and Television Adaptations

Coma was made into a successful feature film (directed by late fellow author/doctor Michael Crichton), as well as Sphinx starring Lesley-Anne Down and Frank Langella; and other Cook novels have also been made into television productions. In December 1993, CBS – TV aired Robin Cook's Harmful Intent; in November 1994, NBC – TV aired Mortal Fear; in May 1995, NBC – TV aired "Virus", based on Outbreak; and in February 1996 NBC – TV aired Terminal. In 2008, a prequel of Cook's forthcoming novel Foreign Body was produced as a 50-episode webseries by Michael Eisner's Vuguru and Big Fantastic, the creators of Prom Queen. In addition to Invasion, NBC – TV has two other Cook novels in production.[9]



  1. ^ a b Stookey, Lorena Laura (1996). Robin Cook: A Critical Companion, Westport, CT, London: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-29578-6
  2. ^ AEI Speakers, American Entertainment International Speakers Bureau. "Robin Cook Biography". Second and fifth paragraphs. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
  3. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine. "TALKING MONEY WITH: DR. ROBIN COOK;Prescription: Real Estate, And Lots of It", The New York Times, January 21, 1996. Accessed April 4, 2011. "Dr. Cook's fascination with real estate goes back to his childhood. He grew up in Queens, the son of an art director at an advertising agency who bought a photostat business. Money was usually tight, he said, though by the time he was 8 years old, the family had 'nudged its way into the middle class' and moved to Leonia, N.J."
  4. ^ Cooking Another Medical Thriller, Naple News. By Sandy Reed. "Q&A about [Robin Cook's] 31st book and much more." Sixth paragraph. March 27, 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  5. ^ Jay McDonald. "Workaholic doctor-author says money never a goal". Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  6. ^ " : About : Woodrow Wilson Center Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  7. ^ a b c Jay McDonald. "What a shock: Robin Cook fuses stem cells with a suspenseful tale". Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  8. ^ a b "Author Biography". Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  9. ^ "Robin Cook Info". Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  10. ^, 'Death Benefit' Slow-Paced but Worthwhile, Associated Press. January 9, 2012. Retrieved same date.

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