Frank Cockerill is a prominent microbiologist with demonstrated leadership skills. He enjoyed a long association with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, having served two terms as Chair of its Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology. He also served as President and CEO of the Clinic’s Mayo Collaborative Services, the largest for-profit company associated with the Mayo Clinic.
Frank Cockerill practiced Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases for more than ten years before he made the switch to Clinical Microbiology. Clinical Microbiology, he says, is the study of pathogenic microorganisms – those microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses that can cause diseases. As a Clinical Microbiologist at the Mayo Clinic he directed the operations in diagnostic clinical settings.
Despite their microscopic size, microorganisms have an enormous impact on human life, says Frank Cockerill. Collectively, they represent the largest mass of life on earth, directly affecting humans, animals, and plant life. Microbes inhabited the earth long before plant and animal life began, and play an important role in sustaining the planet. They ensure that key minerals like carbon and nitrogen are constantly recycled, and are involved in oxygenating the atmosphere.
The existence of microbes was not known until after the microscope was invented in the 17th century. Early microscopes, of course, had nowhere near the magnification power of later generations of microscopes. As Frank Cockerill knows, microbes can be found almost anywhere and are a highly diverse group of organisms that are capable of growing in environments that can sustain no other living organisms, such as volcanic hot springs and Antarctic deserts.