Basic Sciences Director

About Us

Jonathan Cooper, Ph.D., Director, Basic Sciences

Jonathan Cooper

Dr. Jonathan Cooper is director of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch and an affiliate professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington.

Cooper received his doctoral degree in biological sciences from the University of Warwick in England in 1976 and was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Bernie Moss at the National Institutes of Health, where he researched the genetic structure of viruses. He became a Hutch faculty member in 1985 after working with Dr. Tony Hunter at the Salk Institute, where he identified proteins altered by oncogenes in cancer cells. Many of these proteins are important in human cancer.

Cooper is an expert in the signaling pathways that allow cells to communicate with each other and affect the behavior of normal and cancer cells. In particular, he and his laboratory members study members of the Src protein family to understand how they regulate normal cell behavior and the transformation of normal cells to cancer cells. The study of Src and related enzymes, called tyrosine kinases, is important because approximately one half of the 90 human tyrosine kinases are implicated in cancer, and a dozen approved anticancer drugs target tyrosine kinases.

Over the years, the Cooper Lab has elucidated mechanisms that regulate Src, shown that growth factors bring complexes of signaling proteins together, and discovered that two human oncoproteins, Ras and Raf, bind to each other. More recent studies have revealed a mechanism that coordinates cell migrations during brain development and uses many of the same genes and proteins that are important in cancer.

In addition to his laboratory research, Cooper served as co-director of Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, which is jointly run by the Hutch  and University of Washington, from 1995 to 2000. He has received an National Cancer Institute MERIT award and has been appointed to several National Institutes of Health and American Cancer Society grant review committees.

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