Patients and Visitors go to:

Neurology Chair

Dane Chetkovich, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chairman
of Neurology

Faculty By Divisions

Michael K. Cooper, M.D.

Associate Professor of Neurology

Neuro-Oncology Division

Chief, VA Neurology


Dr. Cooper is a physician scientist who specializes in the care of patients with brain tumors and movement disorders and directs biomedical research. Dr. Cooper earned his medical degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. During medical training, Dr. Cooper received a Howard Hughes Medical Student Research Training Fellowship to study molecular genetics in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey C. Hall at Brandeis University. Dr. Cooper completed residency training in Neurology and fellowship training in movement disorders at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Cooper received a Howard Hughes Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for Physicians to study Hedgehog signaling in the laboratory of Dr. Philip A. Beachy in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine


 The Cooper laboratory studies brain tumor cellular heterogeneity with respect to molecular pathways that drive glioma cell growth and adaptive responses to therapeutic modalities. Towards these goals, the laboratory utilizes a patient tissue repository to identify the specific glioma subtypes in which the Hedgehog signaling pathway is operational and activated. Dr. Cooper’s research team has established a preclinical model for growing human malignant gliomas in mice to demonstrate that Hedgehog signaling regulates glioma growth and that pathway inhibition enhances survival. The Hh pathway appears to be activated in a subset of glioma cells (CD133+ cells), and determining how Hh signaling impacts this cellular compartment in gliomas is a primary focus of research. Longer term goals of these preclinical studies are to design clinical trials of Hedgehog inhibitors based upon selecting patients with malignant glioma who might best respond to Hedgehog inhibitors, defining the mechanism of action of Hedgehog pathway inhibition on glioma cancer stem cells and avoiding potential mechanisms of drug resistance.

There is a tremendous need to model glioma cellular compartments and their dynamic responses to therapeutic interventions. To address this need, Dr. Cooper’s laboratory is involved in several collaborative efforts. One of these is to generate monoclonal antibodies against heterogeneous malignant glioma cell types. A central goal of these studies is to determine if these antibodies can be used to define subclasses of glioma tumor initiating cells and their lineages.

Contact Information

Michael K. Cooper, M.D.
Associate Professor of Neurology

Department of Neurology
Vanderbilt Medical Center
MRB III, Room 6160
465 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37232-8552
Office phone: (615) 936-0060
Fax: (615) 322-0486
Office Assistant: (615) 936-5290 (Rosemary Madill)