Cynthia Cooper, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics
Phone: (360) 546-9342
Located in Life Sciences (VSCI) 230F


Course ID Title Meeting Time Location Semester Syllabus
MBioS 301 General Genetics
MBioS 405/505 Cell Biology of Disease
Biol 321 Principles of Animal Development


Our lab examines the biology of black pigment cells or melanocytes.  Melanocytes are responsible for our exterior appearance, providing color to hair, eyes and skin.  Most critically melanocytes protect our skin from ultraviolet rays by promoting the tanning response.  Many organisms throughout the animal kingdom have melanocytes (called melanophores in fish and frogs).  In other organisms, these cells serve a variety of functions, including mate choice in ducks, warning signals in frogs and social behavior in fish.  We examine melanophore development in the model organism zebrafish to better understand the function of genes important for normal melanocyte behavior and function.  With our studies, we hope to learn more about human diseases of melanocytes such as melanoma and vitiligo.

If you are interested in working in the lab as an undergraduate student, graduate student or postdoctoral fellow, please contact Cynthia Cooper at

  • Biology of pigmentation
  • Zebrafish genetics and development

Recent Publications

Lambert M.J., Cochran W.O., Wilde B.G., Olsen K.G. and C.D. Cooper (2015) Widespread subfunctionalization of splice forms in vertebrate genomes Genome Research 25(5):624-32.

Lambert M.J., Olsen K.G. and C.D. Cooper (2014) Gene duplication followed by exon structure divergence may substitute for alternative splicing.  Gene 546(2): 271-6.

Beirl A.J., Linbo T.H., Cobb M.J. and C.D. Cooper (2014) oca2 regulation of chromatophore differentiation and number is cell type specific in zebrafish Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 27(2):178-89.

Clancey L.F., Beirl A.J., Linbo T.H. and C.D. Cooper (2013) Maintenance of melanophore morphology and survival is cathepsin and vps11 dependent in zebrafish PLoS ONE 9(5): e65096.

Cooper C.D., Linbo T.H. and D.W. Raible (2009) Kit and foxd3 genetically interact to regulate melanophore survival in zebrafish Dev Dyn 238(4):875-886.

Cooper C.D. and D.W. Raible (2008) Mechanisms for reaching the differentiated state: Insights from neural crest derived melanocytes Sem Cell Dev Biol 20(1):105-110.

Lampe P.D., Cooper C.D., King T. J. and Burt J.M. (2006) Analysis of Connexin43 phosphorylated at S325, S328 and S330 in normoxic and ischemic heart  J Cell Sci 119:3435-42.

Lister J.A., Cooper C, Nguyen K, Modrell M, Grant K, Raible D.W. (2006) Zebrafish Foxd3 is required for development of a subset of neural crest derivatives Dev Biol 290:92-104.

Cooper, C.D. and P.D. Lampe (2002) Casein Kinase 1 Regulates Connexin43 Gap Junction Assembly Journal of Biological Chemistry, 277(47):44962-44968

Cooper, C.D., Solan, J.L., Dolejsi, M.K., Lampe, P.D. (2000) Analysis of Connexin Phosphorylation Sites Methods 20(2):196-204.


  • PhD, Pathobiology
  • University of Washington