Dr. David Tom Cooke, Oakland Native, Receives Cal Alumni Excellence Award


Dr. David Tom Cooke, a graduate of the Oakland Unified School District and the son of two former principals in the district, is a winner of this year’s Cal Alumni Association’s Excellence in Achievement Award.

Dr. Cooke is the Section Head of General Thoracic Surgery, and the Associate Program Director of the UC Davis Cardiothoracic Surgery Residencies.

He is a graduate of Skyline High School in Oakland and the son of Mary Cooke, former principal at Stonehurst and Dr. John Cooke, former principal at E. Morris Cox Elementary School.

Dr. Cooke specializes in the surgical treatment of malignant and benign lung and esophageal disease, and minimally invasive thoracic surgery. He completed his undergraduate at Cal in Molecular and Cell Biology: Immunology and Pathogenesis, and his honors thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Marian Koshland.

He received his cardiothoracic surgery training at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, general surgery residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, and medical school at Harvard.

Dr. Cook currently serves on the governing board of directors of the American Lung Association of California, and the Medical Advisory Committee of the Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation.

He is the co-founder of #LCSMChat, the bimonthly lung cancer, patient-centered social media Twitter chat and patient engagement network. Since its inception in 2013, #LCSMChat has had more than 11,200 participants, 104,000 tweets, and 270 million impressions.

Dr. Cooke is also passionate about medical education and student mentorship. He is a longitudinal career advisor for UC Davis medical students and a sponsor for the Cal Externship Program.


He developed the UC Davis Integrative 6-year Thoracic Surgery Residency. This novel program matches medical students directly into cardiothoracic surgery residency, shaving years off of training. UC Davis’ program is one of only 24 in the country and the only program in the University of California system.


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