Academic Staff

Professor Chris E. Cooper

Position in departmentMember of Sports Science/Molecular Cellular Biosciences Research Groups
Staff positionProfessor of Biochemistry
Telephone01206 872752
Current positions held:

Academic Appointments

  • Honorary Professsor, UCL (Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering)  2009-present 
  • Professor of Biochemistry, University of Essex 1999-present
  • Wellcome University Award Lecturer - University of Essex 1995 - 1999
  • MRC Research Fellowship - University College London 1992 - 1995
  • King's College Research Fellow - King's College London, England 1990-1992
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow - Brock University, Ontario, Canada 1989


  • EPSRC Senior Media Fellowship (2008)
  • MRC Discipline Hopping Award (2003)
  • Times/Oxford University Press Science Writing Competition - 2nd place (2002)
  • Melvin H. Knisely International Award for outstanding achievements in research on oxygen transport on oxygen transport to tissue (1997)

Research publications: 175 full papers


Authored books: Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat (2012) Oxford University Press 

Books and journal issues edited: 9

Research Grant Income  Current Research funding totalling £2 million (BBSRC, MRC)


PhD Biophysics, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada 1989
BSc. Hons. (Class I) Biochemistry, University of Bristol 1985 

Current research


1   New methods to measure blood flow and oxygen consumption in the body

This work is part of our interdisciplinary collaborations within the Medical Optics Group. Near Infrared spectroscopy is used to measure non-invasively muscle and brain blood flow and oxygen metabolism. Click here for an introduction to NIRS and to see our measurements of the UK short track speed skating team. 

Our current research includes:

Using NIRS to improve sports performance

The development of new methods, particularly with regards to mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase measurements (in collaboration with Professor Clare Elwell in the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory at UCL)

Monitoring of adult brain injury (in collaboration with Professor Martin Smith at the Institute of Neurology, London)

Monitoring visual stress in migraine (in collaboration with Professor Arnold Wilkins in the Department of Psychology at Essex)

2 Oxidative stress, haem proteins and disease

This work is a part of our interdisciplinary collaborations within the Centre for Radicals and Oxidative StresS (CROSS). We are interested in the toxicity of haem proteins when they are released from their normal protective environments, whether it be myoglobin being released from a muscle cell after exercise or haemoglobin from a red blood cell during a sickle cell crisis. We are keen to develop products that can prevent this damage and thus contribute to new therapies for pathologies such as sickle cell disease, malaria, rhabdomyolysis, pre-eclampsia, bacterial-induced haemoylsis and brain haemorrhage.  We are using these ideas to develop an artificial blood substitute. Click here for more information about this project. 

3   Control of Oxygen consumption 

Cytochrome oxidase is the terminal electron acceptor of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and responsible for over 95% of oxygen consumption in the body. We are currently studying the control of oxygen consumption by this enzyme in vitro and in vivo.
The role of possible pathophysiological inhibitors, especially the intercellular gas messengers nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide. 
Key to this work is the development of mathematical models of oxygen consumption by cytochrome oxidase in vitro and in vivo. Click here for a description of our current work in this area.

Research Students

Chris McManus

Research interests
  • biophysics
  • oxygen transport and metabolism
  • biochemistry
  • biomedical optics
  • sports and exercise science
  • biophysics
  • near infrared spectroscopy
  • bioenergetics

My research interests involve biochemical and biophysical studies on metalloproteins, focusing on the major respiratory proteins that react with oxygen (myoglobin, haemoglobin and cytochrome oxidase). I am particularly involved in research at disciplinary interfaces and the consequent translation of scientific findings  from the cell to the human body. My collaborators therefore include chemists, medical physicists, psychologists, sports scientists and clinicians. 

Teaching responsibilities

BS229: Membrane Biology and Bioenergetics

BS321: Spectroscopic Investigations of Disease

BS371: Nutrition and Drugs in Sports and Exercise

PublicationsLink to publications for Chris E. Cooper
Invited talks at international meetings (2009-2011)

Society for Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine 17th Annual Meeting (Orlando, USA, November 2010)  “Nitric Oxide Interactions with Mitochondrial Cytochrome c and Cytochrome Oxidase

Gordon Research Conference  "Brain Energy Metabolism & Blood Flow" (Andover, USA, August 2010)  "New developments in optical methods of measuring oxygen metabolism and mitochondrial function in the adult human brain"

446th WE-Heraeus-Seminar (Bonn, Germany, December 2009)  “Measuring brain energetics by functional near infrared spectroscopy” 

XII ISBS International Symposium on Blood Substitutes (Parma, Italy, August 2009) “Modifying electron transfer pathways in haemoglobin”

International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue XXVI, (Cleveland, USA, July 2009) “Measuring mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase with NIRS: past battles, present reality and future dreams” 

XIVth International Symposium on Cerebral Blood Flow, Metabolism and Function (Chicago, USA, June 2009)  “Nitric Oxide Regulation of Mitochondrial Oxygen Consumption”

Additional information


 I am a formeer EPSRC Senior Media Fellow.  Click here for more details of these activities.


My research has featured in local and national radio, television and newspapers. I have organised and contributed to public science demonstrations and public science lectures and featured in two popular science books.

Examples of areas that have been features include:

  • Shining light (literally) on the brain to monitor normal and abnormal brain function and dysfunction
  • The creation of artificial blood
  • The use of illegal drugs to improve blood performance in sport

<< Back