Dr. Gordon L. Coppoc, DVM 1963

American Veterinary Medical Association 2004

Dr. Gordon L. Coppoc

Gordon L. Coppoc, DVM, PhD, professor of veterinary pharmacology; head of the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana; and adjunct professor of pharmacology and assistant dean, Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Lafayette Center for Medical Education at Purdue, was honored with a 2004 Alumni Recognition Award from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and its Veterinary Medical Alumni Association. The award was presented during the K-State alumni reception held in conjunction with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Annual Conference on July 25, 2004 at the Marriot in Philadelphia, Pa.

Born in Larned, Kan. in 1939, Gordon graduated from high school 15 miles south in Belpre, Kan. in 1957. “As a fifth grader, I watched Dr. A.M. Coddington, of Larned, clean one of our cows and then get paid. I said ‘wow’; one can do interesting things to make money!” Because he liked working with cattle and loved horses, he decided on-the-spot to be a veterinarian.

Dr. Coppoc graduated from K-State (cum laude) in 1961 and then in 1963 with his doctor of veterinary medicine. Gordon married his high school sweetheart, Harriet Kagay, in 1962. Upon graduation Gordon and Harriet loaded their VW van and headed for Boston and graduate work in the department of pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. He received a PhD in pharmacology in 1968. He spent a year as instructor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine before reporting to the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks AFB, Texas, for two years active duty as a Captain in the United States Air Force Veterinary Corp. Dr. Coppoc spent the next two years in post-doctoral training in biochemistry at the University of Chicago Ben May Laboratory for Cancer Research before joining the faculty of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue.

In 1979 Dr. Coppoc became head of the department of physiology and pharmacology at Purdue and shortly after became involved with the University of Indiana School of Medicine regional campus at Purdue, developing a course in pharmacology for medical students. Since 1981, Dr. Coppoc has taught pharmacology to both veterinary and medical students; “One medicine, different patient populations,” he exclaimed!

In 1995, the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine merged its veterinary physiology and pharmacology departments with the department of anatomy to form the department of basic medical science which he heads today. In 1998, Dr. Coppoc was appointed assistant dean at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Lafayette Center for Medical Education at the Purdue campus. “Having the dual roles has provided me with an incredible opportunity to learn the similarities and differences of issues facing veterinary and human medicine,” said Dr. Coppoc.

Dr. Coppoc’s major interests in research have been the development of a comparative oncology program; development and use of models of renal disease for use in studying effects of renal disease on pharmacokinetics; the study of predictive cancer chemotherapy and pharmacokinetic factors that affect the reliability of predictions; and the application of pharmacokinetics to determination of dose schedules and analysis of drug residue patterns and toxicoses in domestic animals.

His interest in teaching has been to develop new ways to teach pharmacology to emphasize a rational approach to drug therapy based on a sound fundamental knowledge of pharmacological principles and the application of these principles. “The broad base of education provided in preveterinary medicine curricula and the broad training in multiple species acquired in veterinary school combined with the rather ‘practical’ approach of most veterinarians helps make them great problem solvers and leaders in many of life’s endeavors,” noted Dr. Coppoc.

Dr. Coppoc is active professionally belonging to the American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics; the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics; the American Veterinary Medical Association; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Medical Informatics Association; the Indiana Veterinary Medical Society, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Xi.

During his career Dr. Coppoc has been honored with the Senior Leader Award, K-State, 1963; First Place Proficiency in Veterinary Medicine Award, K-State, 1963; University of Chicago, Research Associate Award, 1969-1971; the Alumni Faculty Award for Excellence, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, 1994; and the Award of Merit from the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine, Gamma Sigma Delta, Purdue chapter, 1998.

“I don’t know how I could have a more exciting and stimulating life than I experience now. My education at K-State was invaluable and the examples of people like faculty member Dr. John Bowen were crucial to me,” Dr. Coppoc said.

His wife of 42 years, Harriet, is a flutist in the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Coppoc has served on its board of directors for 10 years. He also was president and sang in the Bach Chorale Singers, a noted community choir. He is also currently chair of his church congregation and is on the board of directors of the Lafayette Rotary Club. The Coppocs have two married daughters and five grandchildren. “God has blest me greatly, I am indeed honored to receive recognition from my alma mater,” Dr. Coppoc added.