Edward Cohen

Dr. Edward Cohen died January 27, 2021, at the age of 88 after unsuccessfully fighting COVID-19. With his wife, Toba Cohen (née Gold), Ed lived in the Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood from 1968 to 2020, when they moved full time to Key West, Florida. 

Born in Caldwell, New Jersey, to Rae Cohen (née Berke) and Harry Cohen, he grew up from the age of seven in Miami, and attended the University of Miami for three years before entering medical school. A research scientist specializing in the immunology of cancer, Dr. Cohen was Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) from 1979 to the end of his life (emeritus since 2011), Director of the UIC Medical Science Training Program (MD/PhD program) 1993-2006; and Dean, UIC School of Basic Medical Sciences 1979-1981. Previously, he was Associate Professor and then Professor of Microbiology and Medicine at the University of Chicago 1968-1979, and held faculty positions at Rutgers and at the University of Colorado, where he also did his postdoctoral training. He earned his medical degree degree at Washington University in St. Louis, was an Intern in Medicine at University of Chicago Hospitals, and was a Research Associate at the National Institutes of Health.

An avid sailor, Dr. Cohen raced offshore in Chicago five decades, and completed 45 Chicago-Mackinac races, finishing in every place from first to last. His interests ranged from training champion Golden Retriever dogs to cultivating prize-winning orchids in his backyard greenhouse. He made his own wine, and he fashioned metal sculptures from any steel masts and spars that might break on his boat during storms on the lake. He particularly loved music, and was an annual subscriber to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera.

Dr. Cohen said that his goal in life was to “leave tracks.” With his family, his students, his colleagues, and the legions who benefited from his research, he certainly achieved his goal.

In addition to Toba, Ed is survived by his brother Martin Cohen (Deborra) of Oakland, CA; by children Mark Cohen (Jane) of Atlanta, Lauren Small (Donald) of Baltimore, Jennifer Cohen (Steven Caudill) of Chicago, and Jonathan Cohen (Zeena Meurer) of New York; by eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Ed was predeceased by his brother Arthur Cohen of Los Angeles and his sister Thelma Altshuler of Miami.

Due to the epidemic, no memorial service will be held. Interment was at Southern Keys Cemetery in Big Coppitt Key, FL, on February 1.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to support the Dr. Edward P. Cohen Medical Scientist Training Award at the UIC College of Medicine. Please write “Cohen MSTP Award” on the memo line of your check, and mail to: MSTP Program Administration, UIC College of Medicine MC784, 1853 West Polk Street, Chicago IL 60612.

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