David R. Cox of Belmont, CA, passed away on January 21 of heart disease at the age of 66. He is survived by his loving wife of 25 years, Vicki, children Ian, Sarah, and Jacob, brothers Jade Ascher and Greg Trautman, nephews Peter Wallace and Justin Evatt, and uncle Rudolph Kotzbacher. He was predeceased by his parents, Robert J. and Katherine (Kotzbacher) Cox, stepmother, Eleanor (Davies) Miller, and sister Dianne Evatt.
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David was a renaissance scientist - a brilliant geneticist, caring pediatrician, technology pioneer, and entrepreneur - who was approachable to all, maintaining a special humility and sense of humor while savoring moments with friends he made around the world. Few people extracted pleasure from life as David did, enjoying good food, fine wine and scotch, jazz, travel, sports, genealogy, walks with his golden retriever Maggie, and spending time with his family.
Born in Alliance, Ohio and raised in Ohio and Portland, Oregon, David graduated from Brown University, received his MD and PhD from the University of Washington, completed his Pediatric Residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and fellowship in Genetics and Pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco.
After holding faculty positions from 1980 to 1993 in the Departments of Pediatrics, Biochemistry and Psychiatry at UCSF, David accepted a position as Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine as well as the Co-director of the Stanford Genome Center. There, he was an integral participant in the large-scale mapping and sequencing efforts of the Human Genome Project.
In 2000, David left Stanford to co-found Perlegen Sciences as its Chief Scientific Officer. Perlegen became a leader in analyzing genetic variation, discovering diagnostic markers for disease risk as well as adverse drug effects. In 2008, David was recruited by Pfizer to serve as Chief Scientific Officer of its Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center in South San Francisco. There, he became a driving force in shaping Pfizer's strategy on precision medicine and the future of biomedical innovation.
Certified by both the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Medical Genetics, David served on numerous international and national councils and commissions including the Council of the Human Genome Organization, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, the Board of the American Society of Human Genetics, and as a member of the Health Sciences Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine. His honors included election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. David supervised and mentored numerous students and post-doctoral scholars, instilling in them the same rigor and ethical guideposts that governed his own career.
Beyond his many accomplishments and honors, David integrated his passion for science with a deep concern for people impacted by genetic disease, particularly children, encouraging and advising disease advocacy groups in orchestrating their research programs. He will be deeply missed as a physician, scientist and a fiercely loyal, always supportive friend.
David was a devoted father who was enormously proud of his family, speaking frequently of Vicki's genetic counseling, Ian's pursuits in the food and wine business, Sarah's passion for dance and global health, and Jacob's talent playing and analyzing sports. He encouraged everyone he knew to strive for excellence while enjoying the journey. He will always be remembered for his optimism, enthusiasm, candor, and pursuit of knowledge, which will live on through his family, friends, and colleagues.
A celebration of David's life will be held on Sunday March 3 at 12pm at the Foster City Recreation Center, 650 Shell Blvd, Foster City, CA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the A-T Children's Project, 5300 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Suite 105, Coconut Creek, FL 33073, or www.atcp.org/david.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 18, 2013