Roland Cooper, PhD

Dr. Cooper joined the department in 2011. His NIH-funded research is focused on the molecular mechanism of drug action and resistance in the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. His projects are based both in the laboratory and Uganda. Dr. Cooper teaches Advanced Genetics, Medical Parasitology and Research Methodology.

ProfessorRoland Cooper 2013 Color

Office:  Science Center #224
Lab:  Science Center #221
[email protected]

Academic Areas

Pharmacology, Parasitology, Genetics, Public Health

Educational Background

  • MsPH Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health. Boston, MA
  • PhD Pharmacology & Toxicology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
  • MA Aquatic & Population Biology, University of California , Santa Barbara, CA
  • BA Biological Science, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

TEACHING & Research

Malaria, caused by the blood parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, claims about one million lives and results in hundreds of millions of clinical cases annually, primarily due to the lack of safe, affordable and efficacious drugs available for impoverished populations. Compounding the severity of the problem is the lack of an effective malaria vaccine for the foreseeable future. Antimalarial drugs still offer the best hope for reduction of morbidity and mortality associated with this disease. The foundation of my lab’s research has been the mechanistic and genomic aspects of two major classes of antimalarial drugs, the endoperoxides and the quinolines. We are also interested in the relationship between drug resistance, host immunity and HIV status in clinical outcomes of malaria patients in field studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recent Publications

  • Pulcini S, Staines H,  Lee A, Shafik S, Bouyer G, Moore C, Daley D, Hoke M, Altenhofen L, Painter H, Mu J, Ferguson D, Llinas M, Martin R, Fidock D, Cooper RA, and Krishna S. (2015) Mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter, PfCRT, enlarge the parasite's food vacuole and alter drug sensitivities. Scientific Reports (in press.)
  • Cooper RA, Conrad MD, Watson QD, Huezo SJ, Ninsiima H, Tumwebaze P, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ (2015) Lack of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum in Uganda based on parasitological and molecular assays. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 59, 5061-5064.
  • Tumwebaze P, Conrad MD, Walakira A, LeClair N, Byaruhanga O, Nakazibwe C, Kozak B, Bloome J, Okiring J, Kakuru A, Bigira V, Kapisi J, Legac J, Gut J, Cooper, RA, Kamya M, Havlir DV, Dorsey G, Greenhouse B, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ (2015) Impact of antimalarial treatment and chemoprevention on the drug sensitivity of malaria parasites isolated from Ugandan children. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 59, 3018-3030.
  • Griffin, C.E., Hoke, J.M., Samarakoon, U., Duan, J. Mu, J., Ferdig, M.T., David C. Warhurst, D.C. and Cooper, R.A. (2012) Mutation in the Plasmodium falciparum CRT protein determines the stereospecific activity of the antimalarial cinchona alkaloids. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 56, 5356-5364.
  • Hartwig, C.L., Lauterwasser, E. M. W., Mahajan, S.S., Hoke, J.M., Cooper, R.A. and Renslo, A.R. (2011) Investigating the antimalarial action of 1,2,4-Trioxolanes with fluorescent chemical probes. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 23, 8207-8213.
  • Patel, J.J., Thacker, D., Tan, J.C., Pleeter, P., Checkley, L., Gonzales, J.M., Deng, B., Roepe, P.D., Cooper, R.A., Ferdig, M.T. Chloroquine susceptibility and reversibility in a Plasmodium falciparum genetic cross. Molecular Microbiolog 78, 770-87. PMID: 20807203. (2010)
  • Hartwig C.L., Rosenthal A.S., Angelo J.D., Griffin C.E., Posner G.H., Cooper, R.A. Accumulation of artemisinin trioxane derivatives within neutral lipids of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites is endoperoxide-dependent. Biochemical Pharmacology 77, 322-336. PMID: 19022224. (2009)
  • Kelly, J.X., Smilkstein, M.J., Brun, R., Wittlin, S., Cooper, R.A., Lane, K.D., Janowsky, A., Johnson, R.A., Dodean, R.A., Winter, R., Hinrichs, D.J., Riscoe, M.K. Discovery dual function acridones as a new antimalarial chemotype. Nature 459, 270-273. PMID: 19357645. (2009)
  • Jiang, H., Patel, J.J., Yi, M., Ding, J., Stephens, R., Cooper, R.A., Ferdig, M.T. and Su, X-z. Genome-wide compensatory changes accompany drug-selected mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum crt gene. PLoS One 3, e2484. PMID: 18575593. (2008)
  • Kelly, J.X., Smilkstein, M., Cooper, R.A., Lane, K.D., Johnson, R., Janowsky, A., Dodean, R., Hinrichs, J., Winter R. and Riscoe, M. Design, synthesis, and evaluation of 10-N-substituted acridones as novel chemosensitizers in Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 51, 4133-4140. PMID: 17846138. (2007)


Current Funding

Dr. Cooper is currently a co-principle investigator on the following grants:

Resistance of Malaria Parasites to Artemisinin-Based Therapies

National Institutes of Health Project # 1R01AI075045.

Major goal – characterize antimalarial drug resistance and resistance determinants in Uganda, before the problem becomes widespread in Africa, so that monitoring of these determinants can guide efforts to circumvent the spread of resistance.

Novel Synergistic Antimalarials with Gametocytocidal Activity

U.S. Department of Defense Project #PR130193.

Major Goal – Determine the resistance potential for N10-substituted acridones against Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite gametocyte stages.

Preclinical Development of Novel Small Molecule Malaria Drugs That Overcome Drug Resistance

National Institutes of Health Project # 2R42AI094959.

Major goal: evaluate the molecules for efficacy against a variety of novel chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria and assess the potential for resistance in long-term in vitro drug-pressure experiments.

Novel Broad-Spectrum Antimalarials

National Institutes of Health Project # 1R01AI93784.

Major goal: To use drug resistance selection to acridone-based antimalarials for study of drug mechanism and development of resistance markers in Plasmodium falciparum.

Dr. Cooper is a faculty participant on the following National Institutes of Health Training Grants:

UC Berkeley Minority Health & Health Disparities International Research Training Program

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Project #T37MD003406.

Major Goal: The Minority Health/Global Health Disparities Research Fellowship at UC Berkeley funds international summer research experiences for qualified Bay Area students. The program provides training in infectious disease research, with a focus on diseases that disproportionately affect people in developing countries.

Training in Malaria Research in Uganda

Fogarty International Center and National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases - Global Infectious Disease Research Training Program.

Major Goal: to develop research training and career development programs for multiple Ugandan scientists to strengthen the capacity to conduct independent, sustainable infectious disease research.

Published Abstracts

Acridone ASTMH Abstract 2013

ASTMH Abstract MF2013