About Sara Cooper

Faculty Investigator

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

Genomic approaches to personalizing cancer diagnosis and treatment 

Sara Cooper has long been fascinated by the idea that our genetics influence our health and our bodies. She and her team in the Sara Cooper lab at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology use genetic and genomic tools to study cancer, with the ultimate goal of helping improve cancer diagnosis and personalize cancer treatment. The lab is particularly focused on breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers.

“There’s so much we don’t know about human health,” says Cooper. “I chose to study cancer because there is such great potential for genomic technology to influence patient care and a huge need for new treatments and diagnostic tools in oncology.”

In her work, Cooper is dedicated to unraveling the mysteries behind cancer chemotherapy resistance and discovering new gene candidates and risk factors of chemoresistance. She and her lab also use new and emerging genomic technologies to identify gene targets to help develop new therapeutic treatments for cancer.

The end goal of this work is to understand the genes and pathways important in cancer development and progression in order to improve cancer treatments. But it is the impact on people that ultimately inspires Cooper’s work.

“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. Cooper also leads the Institute’s Information is Power community outreach effort.

2010 Postdoctoral Training in Metabolomics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

2006-2010 Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Stan Fields, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

2006 PhD in Genetics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

2001-2006 Graduate Student, Laboratory of Richard M. Myers, Department of Genetics, Palo Alto, CA

2001 BS in Genetics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

2000-2001 Senior Honors Thesis Research, Laboratory of Nansi Jo Colley, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

2010-Present Faculty Investigator, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, AL

2011-Present Adjunct Faculty, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

2011-Present Adjunct Faculty, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL

2015-Present Director of Graduate Student Affairs at HudsonAlpha

2018-Present Leader of the Information is Power Initiative at HudsonAlpha

2019-Present Member of HudsonAlpha’s Diversity Taskforce