Although she always was interested in science, Lora Hooper’s love for biology started after taking an introductory class at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN where she was an undergraduate. Hooper continued her graduate education in the Molecular Cell Biology and Biochemistry Program at Washington University in St. Louis where she joined Jacques Baenziger’s lab. For postdoctoral training, she stayed at Washington University, in the lab of Jeffrey Gordon, where she began her studies of the interaction between gut bacteria and host cells and discovered that bacteria have the capacity to modify carbohydrates important for cell signaling.
Currently, Hooper is a Professor of Immunology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She has established one of the handful of mouse facilities that have the capacity to breed germ-free mice. Using these mice, her lab explores the symbiotic relationship between a host and its microbiota with the aim of providing insight into human health.
Hooper was a recipient of the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards in 2013 and in 2015 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.