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NLM Mourns Loss of Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

Dr. C. Everett Koop died on February 25, 2013, peacefully at his home in Hanover, NH. He was 96. After a 35-year career as an internationally acclaimed pediatric surgeon, during the 1980s Dr. Koop turned a federal office with a minimal budget and staff, the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, into the most authoritative platform from which to educate the nation on matters of health promotion, disease prevention, and emerging health threats, including smoking, domestic violence, disability rights, and, most urgently, AIDS.  Dr. Koop helped the nation face this most fearsome emerging infectious disease. On this and other issues he often surprised supporters and critics alike.  “I had the privilege of working with Dr. Koop, and seeing firsthand his commitment to public health, when as Surgeon General he served on the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents,” said NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg. “It is especially fitting that his papers are part of the Library’s online collection, Profiles in Science, given that he was such a strong advocate of health information for the public and the use of the Internet for disseminating it.”

Through NLM’s Profiles in Science Web site, which is dedicated to the lives and works of 20th-century leaders in science, medicine, and public health, visitors may view a selection of the C. Everett Koop Papers, including correspondence, speeches, lecture notes, published articles and editorials, photographs, and audiovisual recordings, illustrating Dr. Koop’s tenure as U.S. Surgeon General, from 1981 to 1989.  Visitors to the site can view, for example, a transcript of Dr. Koop’s press conference announcing the release of his seminal report on AIDS in October 1986, as well as photographs from his career as a pediatric surgeon. Profiles in Science also places Dr. Koop’s accomplishments as Surgeon General in the context of the medical advances, political debates, and cultural developments of the 1980s.  As a special feature of this site, Dr. Koop provided introductions to many of his speeches in which he describes their context, setting, and impact.  The Reports of the Surgeon General, including those authored by Dr. Koop, are also available online through NLM.

Individuals interested in conducting research in the C. Everett Koop Papers are invited to consult the finding aid to the collection and/or contact the National Library of Medicine. In addition, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health, has issued a statement on the passing of Dr. Koop.

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