Academic Staff

Professor Chris E. Cooper Director of Centre for Sports & Exercise Science

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


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, FRSC (2015)
  • Innovator of the Year BBSRC (short list) 2015
  • Best New Medtech Programme OBN (short list) 2014
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, FRSB (2014)
  • 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: 180+ 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   Shining light on sport and health

Near Infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) 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 UCL Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory.
  • Monitoring of adult brain injury (in collaboration with Professor Martin Smith at the UCL Brain Monitoring Research Group.

2 Blood Substitutes (HaemO2 project)

We are using novel methods to modify haemoglobin to develop an artificial red blood substitute. Click here for more information about this project. International patents have been awarded and a spin out company (CymBlood) formed to exploit these ideas. Click here for the latest developments.

3 Drugs in Sport

Intersests focus on the measurement and biochemical basis of any performance benefits. See my blog at at

Research Students

Chris McManus

Research interests
  • biophysics
  • biochemistry
  • oxygen transport and metabolism
  • biomedical optics
  • drugs in sport
  • 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

BS153: Principles of Nutrition and Metabolism

BS371: Nutrition and Drugs in Sports and Exercise

BS376: Issues in Sports and Exercise Science

PublicationsLink to publications for Chris E. Cooper
Invited talks at international meetings (2013-2016)

International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue XXX, (Hanover, USA, July 2013) “The use of NIRS to assess the effect of training on peripheral muscle oxygenation changes in elite rugby players performing repeated supramaximal cycling tests”

International Society on Oxygen Transport to Tissue XXXI, (London, UK July 2014)  "Modification of Tyrosine Electron Transfer Pathways in Haemoglobin is Protective Against Lipid Oxidation”

XV ISBS International Symposium on Blood Substitutes (Lund, Sweden, June 2015) "Modifying electron transfer pathways in haemoglobin"

Additional information


 I am a former 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. I regularly contribute to public discourse and debate about the role of drugs in sport.

Examples of featured research:

  • 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

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