UW-Madison Researcher, Teacher and Entrepreneur Mark Cook Dies at 61

Mark Cook, a professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s department of animal sciences, died Saturday from cancer complications, the school said. Research conducted by Cook, as well as other students and professors in his laboratory, has led to more than 40 U.S. patents and four spinout companies, according to UW-Madison.

Cook came to UW-Madison in 1982. His research concentrated on discovering new dietary mechanisms to control inflammation and spur animals’ growth and development. One of the Madison-based startups he helped form is Isomark, which was launched in 2005. The company is developing a device that measures carbon isotopes in exhaled breath, in order to detect the onset of infections in animals and critically ill patients.

Another UW-Madison spinout that Cook co-founded is Ab E Discovery, which is seeking to “advance the finding that chickens can produce a protein that blocks a signal used by bacteria to shut down the host immune system,” according to the school. This protein, which is designed to be a replacement for human antibiotics, is cultivated in eggs and then sprayed over animal feed, UW-Madison said.

Cook, an Xconomist, helped spearhead the creation of Discovery 2 Product, a program that helps UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff turn ideas into companies, in 2014. For those and other efforts, he was awarded the UW-Madison Entrepreneurial Achievement Award the following year.

Cook is survived by his wife Ellen, three children Lynn, LeighAnn, and Crague, and their families, the school said.

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