Sean J. Morrison is the founding Director of Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He holds the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics and the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research. Dr. Morrison completed a B.Sc. in biology and chemistry at Dalhousie University (1991), a Ph.D. in immunology at Stanford University (1996), and a postdoctoral fellowship in neurobiology at Caltech (1999). From 1999 to 2011, Dr. Morrison was a Professor at the University of Michigan, where he directed its Center for Stem Cell Biology.

Among other awards, Dr. Morrison received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2003) and a MERIT Award from the National Institute on Aging (2009). He is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (2018), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2020), and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO, 2023). Dr. Morrison served as the President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (2015–2016) and has been active in public policy issues surrounding stem cell research, testifying before the U.S. Congress, and serving as a leader in the successful “Proposal 2” campaign to protect and regulate stem cell research in Michigan’s state constitution.

Dozens of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who trained in the Morrison laboratory have gone on to independent academic faculty positions, while others have taken leadership roles in private research institutes or biotechnology companies. In 2020, Dr. Morrison received the Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award from the UT Southwestern Postdoctoral Association.

The Morrison laboratory studies the mechanisms that maintain adult tissues and how cancer cells hijack these mechanisms to enable the formation of tumors. To do this, they compare the processes by which stem cells and cancer cells replicate themselves. A better understanding of these mechanisms offers the potential for new regenerative medicine and cancer therapies. By promoting these mechanisms in the context of tissue injury, they can stimulate regeneration. By inhibiting these mechanisms in the context of cancer, they hope to develop anticancer therapies.



Dalhousie University - Canada (1991), Biology
Graduate School
Stanford University (1996)

Research Interest

  • Cancer stem cell biology
  • Melanoma cell proliferation and metastasis
  • Skeletal stem cells and osteogenesis
  • Stem cell aging
  • Stem cell niche
  • Stem cell self-renewal


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Honors & Awards

  • European Molecular Biology Organization
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research Public Service Award
  • Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring from the Postdoctoral Association at UTSW
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • National Academy of Medicine
  • MERIT Award, National Institute on Aging
  • McCulloch and Till Award, International Society for Hematology & Stem Cells

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Associate Member, European Molecular Biology Organization (2023)
  • Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2000)
  • Member, National Academy of Medicine (2018)
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences (2020)
  • President, International Society for Stem Cell Research (2015-2016)