Fabulous People: Dr. Corey Casper

Dr. Corey Casper, the highly respected CEO of Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute, and his team were behind the very first comprehensive cancer center in sub-Saharan Africa and were instrumental in developing strategies to reduce mortality from some of the most common cancers in women and children. Learn more about Dr. Casper…

Hometown: New York, NY. I was born in Queens.

First job: My first job was a summer position for the law firm Morrison Foerster. I spent a summer working at a 120-degree warehouse in Brooklyn dodging rats and dust while pulling legal documents for pending cases.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: We are so fortunate to live in a region with such an incredible outdoor environment. Personally, I most enjoy being in, near or on the water. I enjoy swimming, sailing, looking at ocean creatures in tide pools and walking remote Puget Sound beaches with my dog and family.

Person who has impacted your life the most and why: The person who has had the greatest impact on my life is probably my father. I’ve tried to spend my life emulating the parts of my father that I appreciate, and at times running away from the things I don’t love. He was an OBGYN who started his career doing research, ultimately coming up with some of the initial tests to help diagnose gestational diabetes. At that time, OBs were on call every other night, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him. I loved the work he did though, and his dedication to patients and healthcare, and this ultimately led me on the path to become a physician. He didn’t have many passions outside of work and research though, so in my own career I’ve made an effort to find a balance so that I can be home for dinner with my family and make time for my own interests outside of my work.

Your biggest accomplishment in your eyes and why: This is an easy answer – I have a 16-year-old daughter who is amazing, and I’m thrilled to be able to look at the way that she stands in this world. A close second would be the work that I’ve done to deliver novel treatments and preventions for diseases afflicting people in low-resource environments. I am especially proud of the work we did in East Africa to reduce deaths and suffering due to cancer. We built the first comprehensive cancer center in sub-Saharan Africa, increased the number of practicing oncologists from one to almost 20 for over 200 million people, and developed strategies to reduce mortality from some of the most common cancers in women and children.

The biggest obstacle you have overcome: I would say my biggest obstacle is my own enthusiasm. I’m drawn to so many different things, but there are only so many hours in the day. I’ve worked to improve my focus so that I can apply my energies to a concentrated set of tasks that I can positively influence, while saving some of myself for my family, and leaving time to recharge.

Someone who inspires you and why: I have always been in awe of Albert Einstein. From humble beginnings, he was able to become one of the most influential scientists in history. He valued scientific inquiry, grappled with hard concepts, but also saw the importance of love, justice and humor.

Favorite quote: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” – Albert Einstein

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: The things I’ve tried to do are really hard and often involve approaching issues to which there are no good solutions. To tackle issues of this nature as a career path, you have to find a way to constantly, vigorously and respectfully challenge your own conceptions and the conventional wisdom.

What you think makes someone fabulous: Being fabulous is about having an enormous heart, generosity of spirit and a sharp mind. If you have those three things that is really quite special.

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