Professor Koopman earned his PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1986 for research on stem cell differentiation. He moved to London soon afterwards for a postdoctoral appointment in the Mammalian Development Unit at the Medical Research Council, where he conducted medical analyses of mouse embryo development. During a second postdoc, with the National Institute for Medical Research, he was part of the team who isolated the mouse Y-chromosome gene (now known as SRY) and demonstrated its role in sex determination by reversing the sex of XX-chromosome mice. The discovery is widely regarded as one of the major achievements in molecular genetics of the 20th century.

In 1992 he took a role at The University of Queensland, and now heads a research team whose work focuses on genes that regulate embryonic development, with special emphasis on the molecular genetics of sex development, fertility, gonadal cancers and intersex conditions. He’s also extensively involved in research training, having co-founded the Australian Developmental Biology Workshop in 2001. The workshop is a training-ground for the next generation of developmental biologists in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Between 2007 and 2012 he was a Federation Fellow of the ARC, and in 2008 was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.