Randall J. Roper Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biology
Adjunct Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering


B.S.    Microbiology (Molecular Biology emphasis), Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Ph.D.  Immunology and Genetics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL

Postdoctoral Fellow, Genetics and Development, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

Professional Affiliations

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Society of Human Genetics

International Mammalian Genome Society

Society for Developmental Biology

Indiana University Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine

Editorial Board, The Scientific World Journal

Editorial Board, Advances in Medicine

Institutional Health and Safety Committee, Butler University

INPhys (Indiana Physiological Society), President 2012-2013

Teaching Assignments

BME 38100: Implantable Materials and Biological Response

BIOL 56400: Molecular Genetics and Development

Current Research

Our research seeks to understand the genetic and developmental bases of phenotypes related to Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome (DS).  We have examined skeletal malformations associated with DS including the typical craniofacial features seen in all individuals with DS as well as changes to the appendicular skeleton.  Using mouse models of Down syndrome, our work provided the first experimental evidence that trisomy adversely affects neural crest cells, precursors to the craniofacial skeleton.  Currently we are performing preclinical studies to test treatments for specific DS traits by targeting gene products that are overexpressed because of trisomy.  Additionally, we are examining changes in expression of trisomic genes as well as others throughout the genome and correlating this information with phenotypic and developmental alterations. In collaboration with the Down Syndrome Clinic at Riley Hospital, we are also defining the co-occurrence and variability of debilitating traits in infants with DS.  Through our preclinical, genetic and phenotypic studies, we will better define how three copies of genes on human chromosome 21 cause traits associated with DS as well as understand how genetic variability affects the severity of DS traits. Our long term goal is to apply the knowledge of how and when trisomic genes affect developmental processes to ameliorate Trisomy 21 phenotypes.  

Select Publications

Solzak, J.P., Y. Liang, F.C. Zhou and R.J. Roper. 2013. Commonality in Down and Fetal Alcohol Syndromes. Birth Defects Res A Clin Mol Teratol. 97:187-97. Epub 2013 Apr 3.

Billingsley, C.N., J.A. Allen, S.L. Deitz, J.D. Blazek, D.D. Baumann, A. Newbauer, A. Darrah, B.C. Long, B. Young, M. Clement, R.W. Doerge, and R.J. Roper.  2013. Non-trisomic homeobox gene and Sox9 expression alters craniofacial development in a Down syndrome mouse model.  Am J Med Genet A. 161:1866-74.  Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Deitz, S.L. and R.J. Roper. 2011. Trisomic and allelic differences influence phenotypic variability during development of Down syndrome mice. Genetics 189:1487-95.  Epub 2011 Sep 16..

Blazek, J.D., A. Gaddy, R. Meyer, R.J. Roper, and J. Li. 2011. Disruption of bone homeostasis by trisomy in Ts65Dn Down syndrome mice. Bone 48:275-280. Epub 2010 Sep 24.

Reinholdt L.G., Y. Ding, G. Gilbert, J.P. Solzak, R.J. Roper, M. Johnson, L.R. Donahue, C. Lutz, and M. Davisson. 2011. Molecular Characterization of the Translocation Breakpoints in the Down Syndrome Mouse Model, Ts65Dn. Mamm Genome. 22:685-91. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Deitz, S.L., J.D. Blazek, J.P. Solzak and R.J. Roper. 2011. Down Syndrome: A complex and interactive genetic disorder.  pp. 65-96.  “Genetics and Etiology of Down syndrome” Edited by Subrata Dey. InTech Open Access Publisher, Rijeka. Croatia. (ISBN 978-953-307-631-7).

Blazek, J.D., C.N. Billingsley, A. Newbauer, and R.J. Roper. 2010. Embryonic and not maternal trisomy causes developmental attenuation in the Ts65Dn mouse model for Down syndrome.  Dev Dyn. Jun;239(6):1645-53.

Clement K., N. Gustafson, A. Berbert, H. Carroll, C. Merris, A. Olsen, M. Clement, Q. Snell, J. Allen, and R.J. Roper. 2010. PathGen: A transitive gene pathway generator. Bioinformatics. 26:423-5. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Roper, R.J., J.F. VanHorn, C. Cain, and R.H. Reeves. 2009. A neural crest deficit in Down syndrome mice is associated with deficient mitotic response to Sonic hedgehog. Mech Dev. 126:212-9. Epub 2008 Nov 21. 

Roper, R.J. and R.H. Reeves. 2006. Understanding the basis for Down syndrome phenotypes. PLoS Genet. Mar;2(3):e50.

Roper, R.J., L.L. Baxter, N.G. Saran, D.K. Klinedinst, P.A. Beachy and R.H. Reeves. 2006. Defective cerebellar response to mitogenic Hedgehog signaling in Down syndrome mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 103:1452-6. Epub 2006 Jan 23.

Awards & Honors

Director’s Mentoring Award for Outstanding Leadership and Mentoring of Undergraduate Research, Center for Research and Learning, IUPUI  2011

Inspire Award Finalist-Education, College Mentors for Kids, Indianapolis, IN 2011

IUPUI Trustees Teaching Award   2010

Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Mentor of the Year  2010

IUPUI Honors Program Research Fellow   2007-2010