With the single largest gift ever to The UTHealth School of Dentistry, Dr. Denton Cooley honors his father's legacy. Dr. Cooley, world-renowned heart surgeon, surgeon-in-chief, founder and president emeritus of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, made his gift on Father's Day in 2011 in memory of Ralph C. Cooley, DDS, 1908 alumnus of the School of Dentistry. As Cooley says, "I consider it a real opportunity to demonstrate my pride and affection for my father."
The gift endows the Ralph C. Cooley, DDS Distinguished Professorship in Biomaterials, and in addition, names UTHealth's first multi-purpose center, the Denton A. Cooley, MD and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS Faculty Life Center. The center will serve as a place for professional conferences, meetings, and other events. "The gift will perpetuate the legacy of Dr. Ralph Cooley, an innovator who inspired others to continue the advancement of dentistry," says John A. Valenza, DDS, dean of the School of Dentistry.
Ralph C. Cooley, is perhaps best known for his invention of Copalite, which was designed to coat and desensitize a tooth before the cavity was filled. "It was brilliant," says Frank K. Eggleston, DDS, a retired Houston dentist and immediate past president of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry. "I don't know a dentist in the United States who didn't have a bottle of Copalite."
Like his father, Cooley also contributed numerous innovations to his profession. A pioneer of techniques used in cardiovascular surgery, he helped develop at least 200 surgical products, including the heart/lung machine. Significantly, he was the first cardiac surgeon to perform a successful human heart transplant in the United States.
Dr. Cooley's generous gift to the School of Denistry ensures a family legacy of devotion to one's craft. The gift establishes Dr.Cooley as one of the premier founding members of The Heritage Society at UTHealth. The Heritage Society was recently created to honor individuals and families who desire to inspire their vision of UTHealth's future through bequests, retirement assets, charitable trusts, charitable gift annuities and other gift planning options. Dr. Cooley's gift will perpetuate his father's legacy of honesty, dedication to one's profession, hard work and providing for family.