About Sara Cooper

Sara Cooper, PhD

Combining genomics and metabolomics
Sara Cooper, PhD

Faculty Investigator

Email: sjcooper@hudsonalpha.org
Phone: 256-327-9491
Location: 601 Genome Way, Huntsville, AL 35806

Sara Cooper is a chemical detective. She tracks the unique chemical fingerprints left behind by a cell’s activity, a process called metabolomics. Then she and her team in the Sara Cooper Lab at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology combine that metabolomic information with genomics using gene expression data, a profile of the genes turned on in the same cells. The lab pulls together all of those clues – the chemicals left behind after reactions in the cells and the genetic information that affects those reactions – and applies that bundle of knowledge to solving the mysteries of pancreatic and ovarian cancer.

“For me, it’s fascinating,” she says with quiet passion. “There’s so much we don’t know about human health. The genome is huge, so every day you come to work knowing you will learn something.”

In her work, Cooper focuses on more than just identifying the genes that are connected to a cell’s chemical processes. She also examines how those processes can be modified. The modifications could help improve a patient’s reaction to a particular ovarian cancer drug, for example.

That end goal, understanding the chemical pathways important for cancer and improving cancer treatments, inspires Cooper’s work, especially when she supports close friends and family members who face a cancer diagnosis.

“The problems we’re trying to tackle are very personal,” Cooper says. “When I see my friends and family facing cancer, it makes me feel ever so slightly better to say I’m working on solving it. I’m proud of what I do.”

Cooper joined HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in 2010. She completed undergraduate work in genetics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, received her PhD in genetics from Stanford University in 2006 and completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Washington in Seattle in 2010.

Recent News

April 24, 2017
Seven HudsonAlpha researchers have analyzed the role of cell proliferation across 19 cancers using tissue-based RNA sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas project. Their results, published April 8 in Oncotarget, provide a co...
November 7, 2016
Project will explore patient response to immunotherapy A breast cancer research collaboration between the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has been awarded a two-year award ...
September 14, 2016
This event is sold out Huntsville, Ala. — HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology will host the eighth annual Tie the Ribbons luncheon September 22, 2016 at 11:30 a.m. at the Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville. The event wi...
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