"I can't accept collective responsibility for the decision to commit Britain now to military action in Iraq without international agreement or domestic support." -- Robin Cook
Dr. Robin Cook (born May 4, 1940 in New York City, New York) is an American physician and novelist who writes about medicine and topics affecting public health.
He is best known for combining medical writing with the thriller genre. Many of his books have been bestsellers on the New York Times Bestseller List. Several of his books have also been featured in Reader's Digest. His books have sold nearly 100 million copies.
Cook is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Columbia University School of Medicine. He finished his postgraduate medical training at Harvard. He divides his time between homes in Boston and Naples, Florida where he lives with his wife, Jean, and son. He is currently on leave from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. He has successfully combined medical fact with fantasy to produce a succession of bestselling books. Cook's medical thrillers are designed, in part, to keep the public aware of both the technological possibilities of modern medicine and the ensuing ethical problems.
The Cousteau Society recruited Cook to run its blood-gas lab in the South of France. Intrigued by diving, he later called on a connection he made through Jacques Cousteau to become an aquanaut with the US Navy Sealab when he was drafted in 1969.
Cook is a private member of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees, led by Chairman Joseph B. Gildenhorn, are appointed to six-year terms by the President of the United States.
Cook's novels have anticipated national controversy. Interviewer Stephen McDonald talked to him about his novel Shock; Cook admits the timing of Shock was fortuitous. "I suppose that you could say that it's the most like Coma in that it deals with an issue that everybody seems to be concerned about," he says, "I wrote this book to address the stem cell issue, which the public really doesn't know anything about. Besides entertaining readers, my main goal is to get people interested in some of these issues, because it's the public that ultimately really should decide which way we ought to go in something as ethically questioning as stem cell research."
To date, he has explored issues such as organ donation, genetic engineering, fertility treatment, in - vitro fertilization, research funding, managed care, medical malpractice, medical tourism, drug research, and organ transplantation.
I joke that if my books stop selling, I can always fall back on brain surgery," he says. "But I am still very interested in it. If I had to do it over again, I would still study medicine. I think of myself more as a doctor who writes, rather than a writer who happens to be a doctor." He explained the popularity of his works thus: "The main reason is, we all realize we are at risk. We're all going to be patients sometime," he says. "You can write about great white sharks or haunted houses, and you can say I'm not going into the ocean or I'm not going in haunted houses, but you can't say you're not going to go into a hospital.
Cook says he chose to write thrillers because the forum gives him "an opportunity to get the public interested in things about medicine that they didn't seem to know about. I believe my books are actually teaching people."
The author admits he never thought that he would have such compelling material to work with when he began writing fiction in 1970. "If I tried to be the writer I am today a number of years ago, I wouldn't have very much to write about. But today, with the pace of change in biomedical research, there are any number of different issues, and new ones to come," he says.
Coma was made into a successful feature film (directed by fellow author/doctor Michael Crichton), as well as Sphinx starring Lesley-Anne Down and Frank Langella; and other Cook novels have also been made into television productions. In December 1993, CBS - TV aired Robin Cook's Harmful Intent; in November 1994, NBC - TV aired Mortal Fear; in May 1995, NBC - TV aired "Virus", based on Outbreak; and in February 1996 NBC - TV aired Terminal. In 2008, a prequel of Cook's forthcoming novel Foreign Body was produced as a 50-episode webseries by Michael Eisner's Vuguru and Big Fantastic, the creators of "Prom Queen ." In addition to Invasion, NBC - TV has two other Cook novels in production.