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)
- Cancer stem cell biology
- Melanoma cell proliferation and metastasis
- Skeletal stem cells and osteogenesis
- Stem cell aging
- Stem cell niche
- Stem cell self-renewal
- Lymph protects metastasizing melanoma cells from ferroptosis.
- Ubellacker JM, Tasdogan A, Ramesh V, Shen B, Mitchell EC, Martin-Sandoval MS, Gu Z, McCormick ML, Durham AB, Spitz DR, Zhao Z, Mathews TP, Morrison SJ, Nature 2020 Sep 585 7823 113-118
- Metabolic heterogeneity confers differences in melanoma metastatic potential.
- Tasdogan A, Faubert B, Ramesh V, Ubellacker JM, Shen B, Solmonson A, Murphy MM, Gu Z, Gu W, Martin M, Kasitinon SY, Vandergriff T, Mathews TP, Zhao Z, Schadendorf D, DeBerardinis RJ, Morrison SJ, Nature 2020 01 577 7788 115-120
- Ascorbate regulates haematopoietic stem cell function and leukaemogenesis.
- Agathocleous M, Meacham CE, Burgess RJ, Piskounova E, Zhao Z, Crane GM, Cowin BL, Bruner E, Murphy MM, Chen W, Spangrude GJ, Hu Z, DeBerardinis RJ, Morrison SJ Nature 2017 Aug
- A perisinusoidal niche for extramedullary haematopoiesis in the spleen.
- Inra CN, Zhou BO, Acar M, Murphy MM, Richardson J, Zhao Z, Morrison SJ Nature 2015 Nov 527 7579 466-71
- Oxidative stress inhibits distant metastasis by human melanoma cells.
- Piskounova E, Agathocleous M, Murphy MM, Hu Z, Huddlestun SE, Zhao Z, Leitch AM, Johnson TM, DeBerardinis RJ, Morrison SJ Nature 2015 Oct
- Deep imaging of bone marrow shows non-dividing stem cells are mainly perisinusoidal.
- Acar M, Kocherlakota KS, Murphy MM, Peyer JG, Oguro H, Inra CN, Jaiyeola C, Zhao Z, Luby-Phelps K, Morrison SJ Nature 2015 Sep
- Leptin-Receptor-Expressing Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Represent the Main Source of Bone Formed by Adult Bone Marrow.
- Zhou BO, Yue R, Murphy MM, Peyer JG, Morrison SJ Cell Stem Cell 2014 Jun
- Haematopoietic stem cells require a highly regulated protein synthesis rate.
- Signer RA, Magee JA, Salic A, Morrison SJ Nature 2014 Mar
- The bone marrow niche for haematopoietic stem cells.
- Morrison SJ, Scadden DT Nature 2014 Jan 505 7483 327-34
- Oncogenic Nras has bimodal effects on stem cells that sustainably increase competitiveness.
- Li Q, Bohin N, Wen T, Ng V, Magee J, Chen SC, Shannon K, Morrison SJ Nature 2013 Nov
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
- 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)