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Sean J. Morrison is the director of the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute (CRI) at UT Southwestern 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 their Center for Stem Cell Biology.

Among other awards, Dr. Morrison received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2003), a MERIT Award from the National Institute on Aging (2009), and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (2018). 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.

The Morrison laboratory studies the mechanisms that maintain stem cell function in adult tissues and the ways in which cancer cells hijack these mechanisms to enable neoplastic proliferation. A better understanding of these mechanisms offers the potential to yield new regenerative medicine and cancer therapies.

Morrison Laboratory


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

Sox17 dependence distinguishes the transcriptional regulation of fetal from adult hematopoietic stem cells.
Kim I, Saunders TL, Morrison SJ Cell 2007 Aug 130 3
Physiological Notch signaling promotes gliogenesis in the developing peripheral and central nervous systems.
Taylor MK, Yeager K, Morrison SJ Development 2007 Jul 134 13
Intrinsic differences among spatially distinct neural crest stem cells in terms of migratory properties, fate determination, and ability to colonize the enteric nervous system.
Mosher JT, Yeager KJ, Kruger GM, Joseph NM, Hutchin ME, Dlugosz AA, Morrison SJ Dev. Biol. 2007 Mar 303 1
Maintaining hematopoietic stem cells in the vascular niche.
Kiel MJ, Morrison SJ Immunity 2006 Dec 25 6
Enhanced purification of fetal liver hematopoietic stem cells using SLAM family receptors.
Kim I, He S, Yilmaz OH, Kiel MJ, Morrison SJ Blood 2006 Jul 108 2
Asymmetric and symmetric stem-cell divisions in development and cancer.
Morrison SJ, Kimble J Nature 2006 Jun 441 7097
SLAM family markers are conserved among hematopoietic stem cells from old and reconstituted mice and markedly increase their purity.
Yilmaz OH, Kiel MJ, Morrison SJ Blood 2006 Feb 107 3
CD144 (VE-cadherin) is transiently expressed by fetal liver hematopoietic stem cells.
Kim I, Yilmaz OH, Morrison SJ Blood 2005 Aug 106 3
Toward an understanding of the physiological function of Mammalian stem cells.
Joseph NM, Morrison SJ Dev. Cell 2005 Aug 9 2
Spatial differences in hematopoiesis but not in stem cells indicate a lack of regional patterning in definitive hematopoietic stem cells.
Kiel MJ, Iwashita T, Yilmaz OH, Morrison SJ Dev. Biol. 2005 Jul 283 1

Honors & Awards

  • National Academy of Medicine
  • President, International Society for Stem Cell Research
  • MERIT Award, National Institute on Aging
  • Harland Winfield Mossman Award, American Association of Anatomists
  • McCulloch and Till Award, International Society for Hematology & Stem Cells

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • President, International Society for Stem Cell Research (2015-2016)
  • Senior Editor, eLife (2014)
  • Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2000)