DEPARTMENT OF PATHOLOGY

Gerald P. Morris, M.D., Ph.D.

Gerald P. Morris, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor
  • Director, Immunogenetics and Transplantation Laboratory
  • M.D.- Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • Ph.D.- Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • Residency Training- Laboratory Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
  • Fellowship Training- Histocompatibility, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
  • Board Certification- Clinical Pathology
  • Clinical Specialty- Histocompatibility and Transplant Immunology

Research Interests

My laboratory studies T lymphocyte function and development in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). T cells have multiple important roles in determining clinical outcomes in HSCT. Donor T cells transferred with the hematopoietic stem cells are required for anti-tumor immunity to prevent relapse of malignant disease as well as for mediating protective immunity against infection. However, donor T cells are capable of generating robust immune responses to recipient alloantigens which causes graft versus host disease (GVHD), a multi-organ inflammatory condition that is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. We are interested in understanding the molecular events that define the recognition of alloantigens by T cells, and how that results in T cell activation and generation of effector mechanisms ultimately responsible for GVHD. We utilize transgenic animal models, human T cell culture systems, gene expression analyses, and flow cytometry to examine T cells from patients with GVHD in an attempt to define the mechanisms driving disease.

A related area of study in the laboratory is the examination of T cell development after HSCT. While donor-derived T cells are important contributors to protective immunity after HSCT, de novo development of T cells in the recipient thymus is essential for establishing maximally effective immunity to pathogens as well as preventing the development of autoimmune diseases in the post-transplant setting. T cell development occurs in the thymus, which has stromal components specialized to support T cell development.  Thymic function is compromised in HSCT patients, owing to toxicity of pre-transplant regimens, GVHD affecting the thymic stroma, and age-related thymic degeneration. We are investigating how these stimuli affect T cell development in the thymus and subsequent immune system function.

Representative Publications

  1. Morris GP, Uy GL, Donermeyer DL, DiPersio JF, and Allen PM. Dual receptor T cells mediate pathologic alloreactivity in patients with acute graft versus host disease. Science Translational Medicine 2013; 5(188): 188ra74.
  2. Jackups R Jr, Canter C, Sweet SC, Mohanakumar T, and Morris GP. Changes in concentration of donor-specific antibodies to HLA predict clinical response to plasmapheresis for antibody-mediated heart and lung transplant rejection. Journal of Clinical Apheresis 2013; doi: 10.1002/jca.21270.
  3. Morris GP and Allen PM. How the TCR balances sensitivity and specificity for the recognition of self and pathogens. Nature Immunology 2012; 13(2): 121-128.
  4. Liu C, Wetter L, Pang S, Phelan DL, Mohanakumar T, and Morris GP. Cutoff Values and Data Handling for Solid-Phase Testing for Antibodies to HLA: Effects on Listing Unacceptable Antigens for Thoracic Organ Transplantation. Human Immunology 2012; 73(6): 597-604.
  5. Morris GP, Ni PP, and Allen PM. Alloreactivity is limited by the endogenous peptide repertoire. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2011; 108(9): 3695-3700.
  6. Morris GP, Phelan DL, Jendrisak MD, and Mohanakumar T. Virtual crossmatch by identification of donor-specific anti-HLA antibodies by solid phase immunoassay: a 30-month analysis in living donor kidney transplantation. Human Immunology 2010; 71(3):268-273.
  7. Morris GP, and Allen PM. Cutting Edge: Highly alloreactive dual TCR expressing T cells play a dominant role in graft versus host disease. Journal of Immunology 2009; 182(11): 6639-6643.
  8. Click here to search for Dr. Morris's publications

Biography

Gerald Morris is originally from Michigan and received his undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and his MD and PhD degrees from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.  His doctoral research was in the laboratory of Yi-chi M. Kong investigating regulatory T cells in immune tolerance and autoimmunity. After completion of his degrees, Dr. Morris trained at Washington University School of Medicine with a residency in Laboratory Medicine, a fellowship in clinical Histocompatibility with Thalachallour Mohanakumar and post-doctoral research with Paul M. Allen. While in Dr. Allen’s laboratory, Dr. Morris investigated T cell responses to allogeneic ligands focusing on understanding the determinants for T cell responses causing graft versus host disease following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.  Dr. Morris joined the UCSD Department of Pathology in 2013.

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