Dr. Jon Cooper, an expert in the signaling pathways that affect the behavior of normal and cancer cells, has been named director of the Center’s Basic Sciences Division. He replaces Dr. Jim Roberts, who was in the role for five years. Cooper became the acting division director last May when Roberts began a one-year sabbatical and was appointed to the new position through an internal selection process.
Cooper, a member of the Basic Sciences Division for 25 years, has served as an associate division director since 2005. He is also an affiliate professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He co-directed the interdisciplinary Fred Hutchinson/UW Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology from 1995 to 2000.
“The Basic Sciences Division is a group of tremendously creative scientists, busily dissecting the fundamental biology of normal and cancer cells,” Cooper said. “I feel very lucky to be a part of this community and honored to lead it.”
In announcing the leadership change, Center president and director Dr. Lee Hartwell said he and deputy director Dr. Mark Groudine were pleased to work with Cooper on priorities identified by the Basic Sciences faculty, including greater inter-divisional contact, developing more multi-investigator grants, and increasing participation in Center fundraising.
The Cooper Lab investigates proteins involved in the signaling pathways that allow cells to communicate with each other. In particular, the lab studies members of the Src family to understand how they regulate normal cell behavior during development and the transformation of normal cells to cancer cells.
Born and raised in England, Cooper attended the University of Cambridge as an undergraduate and received his doctoral degree from the University of Warwick in 1976. Early in his career, he worked at the National Institutes of Health, investigating the gene organization of the vaccinia virus, which was used in smallpox immunizations. Before coming to the Center in 1985, he spent five years at the Salk Institute identifying proteins altered by oncogenes in cancer cells. Many of these proteins are important in human cancer.
Cooper appreciates the collaboration and interactivity among Center researchers and said “the ideas that fly around in faculty meetings and seminars are an enormous source of stimulation.”
“I'm looking forward to ensuring that my colleagues have what they need to do great research and to being a bridge for communication between Basic Sciences and the other divisions,” he said.