Interview with Dr Chad Cook

What is your name and where do you live? 

Chad Edward Cook and I live in beautiful and historic Chapel Hill, North Carolina, one of the original colonies of the United States. North Carolina boasts lovely coasts, smoky mountains, and some of the best scenery in the United States. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I am 57 years old and have been a physiotherapist for 32 years. I finished a PhD in 2003 and I’ve been an academician since 1999. I have been married for 32 years (to the same person) and have three boys who are 29, 24, and 19. I am an active researcher and have published over 330 papers and have presented about 190 keynotes in 34 different countries. Before COVID I enjoyed traveling and seeing new places; after COVID, I can’t stand it. 

What is your role at 

Presently, I am the Chair of the perioperative management incubator and I am also part of the diagnostic accuracy incubator. As Chair of the perioperative group, I hope to coordinate a number of papers that outline best practice for pre-, peri-, and post-operative management of surgery for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM). We hope to frame best practices for conservative care of DCM as well, for those who have mild DCM or do not wish to receive surgical intervention. 

Why did you get involved with 

I have had an interest in DCM for a very long time. I first published papers on how to identify this condition approximately 15 years ago. It is humbling to recognize that we haven’t progressed much further in recognizing and differentiating cases from other competing conditions. I hope that my contributions may help improve the management of those who do and don’t receive surgery. 

How did you hear about 

David Anderson (who is an Australian physio and a member of the incubator) recommended Dr Benjamin Davies to me. I had a conversation with Ben and he provided compelling reasons for the purpose of I feel blessed to be involved. 

What has your experience been like with 

My experience has been exhilarating. Each incubator has individuals from multiple backgrounds, including those with lived DCM experience, and each person is treated equally as a contributor. All involved are participating for unselfish reasons; each person is interested in improving recognition and care for those with DCM. 

What do you do when you are not working at

Presently, I am a Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University. I also have secondary appointments at the Department of Population Health Sciences and the Duke Clinical Research Institute. I have adjunct/conjoint appointments at several universities around the world and supervise anywhere from 2 to 6 PhD students at a given time. 

What do you do during your spare time? 

I enjoy cycling (both mountain and road cycling), exercising at the gym, and hanging out with my wife and three grown sons. I work long hours, so I truly cherish my time off. A guilty pleasure of mine is watching camping videos on YouTube.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself.
  1. I have the remarkable skill set of distinguishing tastes between different whiskeys, including the region they were distilled, the type, and occasionally, the brand. 
  2. On a trip to Machu Picchu with my son, we got lost on the way from Cusco. Our driver had to re-route through the backlands of Peru because landslides had covered the main roads. Since neither my son nor I speak Spanish (and the driver did not speak English), it was nerve-racking for a while. 
  3. I am an extrovert, which is why I have traveled and have spoken at so many conferences. There is nothing I love more than being surrounded by thousands of people. (lie: I am a raging introvert. I scored a 16/16 on the Myers Briggs for introvertism).