Paul S. Cooke

Professor and Chair

Department of Physiological Sciences
Box 100144
1333 Center Drive
Gainesville, FL  32610-0144
Office: 352-294-4008
Fax: 352-392-5145


  • BS Biology, Westminster College, Fulton, MO, 1978
  • PhD Physiology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1983
    Post-doctoral training, Reproductive biology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 1984-1987

Honors and Awards

  • Billie A. Field Endowed Chair in Reproductive Biology, Univ. of Illinois, 2004-2011
  • Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Helen Kruger All-Around Excellence Award, Univ. of Illinois, 2004
  • Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence, Univ. of Illinois, 2001
  • Research Excellence Award, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, 2000
  • University Scholar, Univ. of Illinois, 1997-2000
  • Young Andrologist Award, Am. Soc. of Andrology, 1996, Presented annually by Am. Soc. of Andrology to the outstanding U.S. scientist in male reproductive biology under 40 years old.
  • The Levine Award for research excellence, Univ. of Illinois, 1993
  • List of Teachers Ranked Excellent, Univ. of Illinois, 1988, 1989, 1991-1995, 1999-2001, 2005, 2007-2010
  • National Research Service Award, National Institute of Health, 1984-1987

Research Interests

Dr. Cooke’s laboratory works in several areas of male and female reproductive biology. Our current major research interest is in the role of membrane estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1) in male and female reproductive biology. Most ESR1 in target tissues/cells is nuclear/cytoplasmic and signals through the canonical nuclear estrogen receptor pathway, which is essential for major reproductive effects of 17 beta-estradiol (E2). This involves E2 binding to nuclear ESR1, which is then phosphorylated and dimerizes, leading to translocation of ligand-receptor complexes to DNA, where they bind estrogen-response elements (EREs) in target genes. However, a small fraction (5-10%) of ESR1 protein produced is post-translationally palmitoylated and inserted into cell membranes; this mESR1 activates phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT (PI3K/AKT) and mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) pathways in the cell membrane, and induces other effects.

Our laboratory has two very powerful transgenic mice that we use to study the role of membrane ESR1 (mESR1) in E2 signaling. One of these is a new transgenic mouse lacking mESR1 but still expressing nESR1, the nuclear-only estrogen receptor 1 (NOER) mouse. This mouse provides a unique tool to establish relative roles of mESR1 and nESR1 in E2 signaling. Critically, we have recently shown that male mice lacking mESR1 are infertile and have extensive endocrine and reproductive abnormalities, for the first time establishing a key role for mESR1 in E2 physiology. We also have another transgenic mouse called the membrane-only estrogen receptor 1 (MOER) mouse, which expresses mESR1, but lacks nuclear ESR1. We use these unique mice as our major tools to try to understand the role of mESR1 in E2 signaling.

Dr. Cooke’s lab also has an interest in stem cells, and a recent key finding in the laboratory has been that spermatogonial stem cells from the testis can differentiate into a variety of other reproductive and non-reproductive cell types; this may have therapeutic implications for human medicine.

Recent Publications

Membrane-Localized Estrogen Receptor 1 Is Required for Normal Male Reproductive Development and Function in Mice

Additional publications here