Dr. Minor J. ("Jud") Coon was born in 1921 in Englewood, Colorado. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from the University of Colorado in 1943 and went on to do graduate studies at the University of Illinois. Coon received his Ph.D. in 1946 and remained at the University of Illinois to do postdoctoral research for the next year. In 1947 he joined the faculty of the Department of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where he undertook studies on amino acid metabolism. Coon stayed at the University of Pennsylvania for several years and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1949 and Associate Professor in 1953. He moved to the University of Michigan Medical School in 1955 when he was offered a position as Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry.
While at the University of Michigan, he served as chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry from 1970 to 1990. In 1983 he was named the Victor C. Vaughan Distinguished University Professor. While chairman, Coon emphasized the importance of teaching, strengthened the graduate program, and recruited outstanding faculty members, many with joint appointments. Coon received recognition for many awards at UM, including the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, the Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award in Biomedical Research, the Henry Russel Lectureship, and the Distinguished Achievement Award of the Medical Center Alumni Society.
Coon's impact on the biochemistry and molecular biology world was large. Coon completed early studies on fatty acid and amino acid metabolism, pioneered research on P450 enzymes, and researched the biosynthesis of steroid hormones and the activation of environmental carcinogens.
In addition to his research, Coon has been active in service to the biochemistry community. National and international awards include the Paul Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry by the American Chemical Society, Michigan Scientist of the Year, Bernard Brodie Award in drug metabolism, the first William C. Rose Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Coon was also honored by the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Coon also served as President of the Association of Medical School Departments of Biochemistry (1974-1975), on the Executive Committee of International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1985-1991), and President of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1991-1992). Coon was also editor-in-chief of Biochemical Preparations and Microsomes, Drug Oxidations and Chemical Carcinogenesis. Coon has served on the editorial boards of Biochemistry, Molecular Pharmacology, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.