How Cook navigated route to historic gold in Australia combining medicine and modern pentathlon


While male pentathletes have competed at every Olympic Games since Stockholm 1912, Steph Cook became the first women’s Olympic modern pentathlon champion 88 years later, at the Sydney 2000 Games. The Great Britain star talks us through how she combined a hectic life as a doctor with going for gold – and how her fascinating sport, rooted in Olympic history, has evolved in the modern world.

Junior doctors in British hospitals are famously, perhaps notoriously, overworked. So the idea of pulling 15-hour shifts while also putting in the amount of training required to become an Olympian might seem physically impossible. Steph Cook, however, somehow managed it, and in a sport consisting of five disciplines – fencing, swimming, show jumping, shooting and running.

“It was crazy,” Cook said with a laugh, reflecting on her years before becoming the first women’s Olympic modern pentathlon champion. “I was studying medicine at Oxford, which is where I’d taken up modern pentathlon, and once I graduated I knew I needed to make a decision.

“Was I going to continue with sport or become a junior doctor? I decided I’d try to do both. I was doing up to 100 hours a week in the hospital while still training and competing. I remember coming off a night shift and flying straight to Poland for a World Cup. Somehow I kept going.”

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Combining saving lives with creeping up the world rankings, Cook was clearly a multi-tasker of the highest calibre. No wonder the Olympic sport conceived to find the best all-round athletes appealed to her.

“Growing up, I’d done a bit of riding and was a good runner, and at university I thought I’d give pentathlon a go,” she said. “I really just wanted to get back on a horse again, but I also fancied the idea of trying some new sports. I had never shot or fenced before, and my swimming was ropey. I couldn’t even do tumble turns.

“Initially it was just fun. In 1994, when I started, the women’s sport wasn’t even at the Olympics. But I watched the men with interest at Atlanta 1996, and there was a campaign to get the women’s sport included.

“I got selected for the 1997 European Championships, but it clashed with my final medical exams and I couldn’t go. When the UK lottery funding came in, and the Olympics started to look more likely, I was offered a research position by a doctor in Oxford. It meant I could still study but also fit in more training. And then we got the National Training Centre in Bath. From November 1999, I trained full time.”

Steph Cook Getty Images

Having been in the sport for only six years, Steph was still under the radar in terms of becoming a potential medallist. But the unique nature of her sport gave her a chance. “Riding and running were my strengths, but they reckon it takes 10 years to get to international level in fencing,” she said. “I

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Antibody drug tested in Cook County may be helpful to some COVID-19 patients, results show

A new antibody-based drug shows promise in treating outpatients who have mild to severe COVID-19, according to initial results of research conducted in part at Cook County Health and Northwestern University.

Patients given the drug were hospitalized or visited the emergency room less often than those given a placebo, Cook County Health officials said. The patients receiving the drug also showed improvement within two to six days, a shorter disease course that is not only good for patients but also may reduce the amount of time a person is infectious, helping protect other people.

The drug, manufactured by Eli Lilly and AbCellera Biologics Inc., was tested on 452 outpatients at 24 medical institutions across the country, including Cook County’s vast public health system and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Most of the 14 patients who took part at Cook County Health were Latino or Black, populations that have been hit especially hard by the disease.

The results of the continuing study, which is being run by Eli Lilly, were published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The drug, administered through a one-time infusion, includes the replicated antibodies of one of the first patients in the United States to survive COVID-19. It’s classified as a monoclonal antibody treatment, the same type of medication given to President Donald Trump after he was diagnosed with the disease and which he described as “a cure.”

The drug in the Eli Lilly trial was formulated using a single antibody. The drug Trump received was made by Regeneron and involves two antibodies.

Dr. Gregory Huhn, an infectious disease expert who led the arm of the Eli Lilly research conducted at Cook County Health, made it clear that the drug is a treatment, not a cure.

“Our hope has been that the antibody drug will reduce COVID symptoms quickly after diagnosis and help to eradicate the virus more quickly,” Huhn said. “While a vaccine is still necessary, this drug therapy has the potential to prevent bad clinical outcomes and complications of COVID-19.”

Scientists have surmised that monoclonal antibodies would be more effective earlier in the course of the disease, and that so far appears to be the case. Another recently released study found the Eli Lilly drug had no benefit for patients sick enough to be hospitalized — results that brought the research to a halt. Most of those patients also were treated with the antiviral drug remdesivir.

“There’s a more compelling argument to administer antibodies early on, before our own bodies generate their own immune response,” Huhn said.

The results released Wednesday found that 1.6% of outpatients given the Eli Lilly drug needed to be hospitalized or visit an emergency room, compared with 6.3% of patients who received a placebo. The drug worked by reducing the amount of virus in people’s bodies, the study determined.

The study’s findings also indicate better outcomes among high-risk patients — defined as patients 65 or older or morbidly obese patients who were at least

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RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. Announces Appointment of Dr. James Cook and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin as Research Fellows

Dr. James Cook

“As the original designer of the GABAkines licensed by RespireRx, I am very excited to be working on the research team being assembled by RespireRx to realize their therapeutic potential,” said Dr. Cook
“As the original designer of the GABAkines licensed by RespireRx, I am very excited to be working on the research team being assembled by RespireRx to realize their therapeutic potential,” said Dr. Cook
“As the original designer of the GABAkines licensed by RespireRx, I am very excited to be working on the research team being assembled by RespireRx to realize their therapeutic potential,” said Dr. Cook

Dr. Jeffrey Witkin

“It is an honor to be afforded this singular opportunity to join such a capable and driven team in further progressing the expanding portfolio of highly promising neuromodulator compounds. The broad-ranging efficacy of our GABAkine candidate, KRM-II-81, in preclinical models and in human epileptic tissue, already provides compelling evidence to substantiate this compound as a next-generation antiepileptic drug. I am enthusiastically looking forward to becoming an integral part of RespireRx’ bright future,” said Dr. Witkin.
“It is an honor to be afforded this singular opportunity to join such a capable and driven team in further progressing the expanding portfolio of highly promising neuromodulator compounds. The broad-ranging efficacy of our GABAkine candidate, KRM-II-81, in preclinical models and in human epileptic tissue, already provides compelling evidence to substantiate this compound as a next-generation antiepileptic drug. I am enthusiastically looking forward to becoming an integral part of RespireRx’ bright future,” said Dr. Witkin.
“It is an honor to be afforded this singular opportunity to join such a capable and driven team in further progressing the expanding portfolio of highly promising neuromodulator compounds. The broad-ranging efficacy of our GABAkine candidate, KRM-II-81, in preclinical models and in human epileptic tissue, already provides compelling evidence to substantiate this compound as a next-generation antiepileptic drug. I am enthusiastically looking forward to becoming an integral part of RespireRx’ bright future,” said Dr. Witkin.

Glen Rock, N.J., Oct. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OTCQB: RSPI) (“RespireRx” or the “Company”), a leader in the discovery and development of innovative and revolutionary treatments to combat diseases caused by disruption of neuronal signaling, is pleased to announce the appointment on October 16, 2020, of Dr. James Cook and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin as Research Fellows.

Tim Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer said, ‘‘We are thrilled to formally welcome Dr. Cook and Dr. Witkin to the RespireRx team. In their capacities as Research Fellows, they will immediately assume roles as integral core members of our research team, reporting to Dr. Arnold Lippa, and participate as members of our Scientific Advisory Board. Their intrinsic depth of knowledge, collective academic and industry achievements in the field of neuroscience is unrivaled. Their expertise in the development of novel and innovative glutamate and GABA-A receptor neuromodulators, across a broad scope of patient -critical disorders will prove extremely valuable as we continue to grow the business; in parallel, we are actively expanding our portfolio of products, broadening our technical and regulatory asset base and in turn strengthening our already longstanding collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation ‘UWMRF’.’

Dr. James Cook is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he co-leads a group of scientists who have synthesized and tested a broad series of novel drugs that display GABA-A receptor subtype selectivity and pharmacological specificity. He is a leading expert in GABA-A receptor drug targeting with more than 40 years’ experience in organic and medicinal chemistry and more than 500 scientific publications and 60 patents.

Dr. Jeffrey Witkin, is

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