USA College of Medicine Mourns Loss of Dr. Joseph H. Coggin, Jr.


Joseph H. Coggin, Jr. Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology passed away on August 21, 2011. He had received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1965. Dr. Coggin had focused his research in two areas: (1) oncofetal antigen (OFA) immunogenicity in cancer and (2) OFA cancer detection and treatment. He was also a member of the Tumor Immunology Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratories [ORNL]. Over 12 years at Tennessee and ORNL, he rose to the rank of full Professor and was named Head of the ORNL Molecular Anatomy Tumor Program before taking the Chairmanship here at USA in the College of Medicine in 1977. He was a member of the American Academy of Microbiology [AAM] and was certified by the AAM as a Specialist in Public Health and Laboratory Microbiology and also was a Certified Biological Safety Professional. He had served on the Immunological Sciences Study Section, the Radiation Study Section at NIH, the Comprehensive Cancer Center Review Committee and had worked on many site visit teams for the National Cancer Institute over his 24 years at USA.  He was a consultant to OSHA on human bloodborne pathogens. Dr. Coggin had been a consultant to six international pharmaceutical companies in the last 24 years as a biological safety professional.

Dr. Coggin had several US patents for developing monoclonal antibodies to OFA and for the use of OFA in cancer detection and treatment. OFA was identified in Dr. Coggin's laboratory at USA and the gene encoding this auto-immunogen was cloned and sequenced in his laboratory and identified to be immature laminin receptor protein [iLRP]. This protein is uniquely expressed on mammalian embryo and early fetus, and phased from active expression in mid-gestation. When rodent, human and tumors of other species were tested in his laboratory, the iLRP/OFA was re-expressed as a universal, early and essential step in oncogenesis induction in all tumors tested. Working with Dr. James Rohrer and Dr. Adel Barsoum of this department they had identified the iLRP/OFA protein and its role as a T-cell inducing and immuno-regulating factor in fetogenesis and oncogenesis. This group of USA scientists along with surgeon Dr. Lynn Dyess and Dr. Alan Tucker in Pathology had published pioneering research with iLRP/OFA. They had successfully developed iLRP / OFA as a potential universal anti-tumor immunogen for preventing tumor recurrence after surgical removal and for detection of such recurrences with blood testing. Dr. Coggin's research is carried forward by USA researchers and is focused on understanding the role of iLRP/OFA in cancer promotion, cancer prevention following specific vaccination, and in regulating T-lymphocyte immunity to emerging or recurring tumors in humans and animals.

Dr. Coggin was instrumental in obtaining funding for and initiating an ongoing phase I/II clinical trail determining the safety and efficacy of iLRP/OFA-loaded autologous white blood cell vaccination of patients with metastatic breast cancer. 

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