Prof. Andrea Cooper
University of Leicester, U.K.
Research interests: Professor Cooper received her undergraduate degree from University College, London and her Doctoral degree from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine UK, where she investigated the interaction between macrophages and protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. Moving to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, US she expanded her investigation of leishmaniasis to include the T cell response of patients suffering from cutaneous, mucocutaneous and visceral forms of this disease. She then moved to the Mycobacterial Research Labs at Colorado State University and began studying the protective immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Prior to her move to the University of Leicester she was at the Trudeau Institute, Inc. for 12 years where she held the E.L. Trudeau Chair which allowed her to study the cellular immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The goal of Professor Cooper’s programme is to define the factors impacting expression of immunity in the lung. The underlying themes include
• The role of early innate events in driving coordinated immune responses.
• The role of cytokines and chemokines in initiation, expression and regulation of immunity.
• The role of lymphocyte priming, differentiation and migratory capacity in prolonged expression of immunity.
• The role of the inflamed environment in regulating the expression of immunity.
The infection model of choice is mycobacterial challenge through droplet particles to the alveolar tissue in the lung. This model uses a low dose challenge, allowing for very early immune-mediated events in the lung tissue to be dissected with regard to kinetics, location and the contribution of specific cell types to immunity. There has been a focus on the role of IL-12, IL-23 and IL-17 and the specific role of dendritic cells and lung resident innate lymphocytes in initiation and coordination of the acquired T cell response. We also have a project examining the role of neonatal exposure to bacterial products as a factor which impacts these early responses to mycobacterial infection in the adult. These studies impact on working models of what makes individuals more susceptible to infection in the lung and also to our understanding of basic immune mechanisms.