Physiological sciences chair named UF Research Professor

Dr. Paul Cooke

Dr. Paul Cooke

Dr. Paul Cooke, a professor and chair of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of physiological sciences, has received a UF Research Foundation professorship.

Sponsored by the university’s Office of Research, the professorships are awarded to tenured faculty members campuswide for distinguished research.  The honor includes a $5,000 salary increase for three years, and a one-time $3,000 award for research support.

Cooke’s laboratory works in several areas of male and female reproductive biology. His current major research interest is in the role of membrane estrogen receptor 1, or ESR1, in male and female reproductive biology.

“Although descriptions of these membrane estrogen receptors go back to the 1960s and 1970s, there has been a long debate about exactly what they did, how they acted, and indeed whether or not they were important for estrogen action,” Cooke said.

His laboratory has recently been working with a newly developed mouse that has normal amounts of ESR1 in the cell nucleus, but lacks membrane ESR1. By examining the effects of the loss of membrane ESR1 in male or female reproduction, it is possible to determine for the first time exactly what role membrane ESR1 plays in male and female reproduction, Cooke added.

“Surprisingly, males lacking membrane ESR1 were infertile and had extensive reproductive abnormalities,” Cooke said. “This work indicated that membrane ESR1, which many considered peripheral in estrogen signaling, was actually essential for normal estrogen responses and fertility in males.”

Cooke’s work in this area was published in the journal Endocrinology in 2016, and was chosen as one of the top 5 endocrinology discoveries of 2016 by a group of endocrinology journals

Since joining UF’s faculty in 2011 following a national search for a new chair of the physiological sciences department in 2011, Cooke has continued a productive career in research in addition to his administrative duties.

 

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