Eric Morrow, PhD, MD
Assistant Professor in Biology and Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, & Biochemistry and Psychiatry & Human Behavior
The Morrow lab investigates the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying disorders of cognitive development, such as intellectual disability and autism. The long-term aim of this research is to establish a basic foundation for improved genetic diagnosis and treatment interventions designed to enhance cognitive and functional gains for patients. Because these disorders are highly genetic and in order to identify core molecular mechanisms, genome-wide "forward genetic" strategies to identify genetic mutations have been a principal focus. In complement to this, molecular and neurodevelopmental studies of identified pathways are underway in experimental systems in human and mouse tissues.
BiographyEric Morrow received his PhD in genetics and neurodevelopment at Harvard University. He received his MD degree from the Health Science Training Program at MIT and Harvard Medical School. During this medical training, Morrow developed a strong interest in the scientific challenges posed by childhood neuropsychiatric disorders. He conducted further clinical and scientific training in neurology and psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Morrow was MGH Rappaport Neuroscience Scholar and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School prior to coming to Brown. His research focuses on normal molecular mechanisms of brain development, and genetic perturbations that underlie disorders of human cognitive development. At Brown, Morrow's research bridges between MCB and Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior where he directs the Developmental Disorders Genetics Research Program (DDGRP).
Research DescriptionNeurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and intellectual disability are common and cause profound morbidity in populations worldwide. The associated costs to society are high and that to families are immeasurable. Intellectual disability (ID, formerly mental retardation), the most common developmental disability, occurs in 2% of people, and ranks first in the US as a cause of lifelong disability (National Center for Health Statistics U.S., 1996). Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) occur in approximately 1 in 200 children. ID occurs in up to 50% of children with ASD and epilepsy occurs in approximately 25% of children affected by ASD.
The Morrow lab investigates the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying disorders of cognitive development. The long-term aim of this research is to establish a basic foundation for improved genetic diagnoses and treatment interventions designed to enhance cognitive and functional gains for patients. Because these disorders are highly genetic and in order to identify core molecular mechanisms, genome-wide "forward genetic" strategies to identify genetic mutations have been a principal focus. In complement to this, molecular and neurodevelopmental studies of identified pathways are underway.
Research in the Morrow lab thereby follows two synergistic approaches: 1) human genetic studies in patient and control samples; 2) molecular neurodevelopment studies of identified pathways. In the first approach, the lab has a strong interest in rare genetic variation, including both genomic copy number and sequence changes. Our own data and that from the field as a whole have demonstrated a large and increasing number of heterogeneous loci in developmental disorders. Through extensive regional and international collaboration, we are establishing large datasets of genome-wide microarray data which are studied using new bioinformatic strategies. In molecular studies, we are focusing on neurodevelopmental mechanisms whereby these heterogeneous genes and loci appear to converge, which includes mechanisms involved in synaptic maturation. We are developing experimental models for studying disease genes and mutations in this process. In both our genetic and mechanistic studies, we are also implementing next generation sequencing technologies, as these new methods now provide a power in genomic analysis which has been previously unattainable. Whereby several genetic loci under study have also been implicated in schizophrenia (another neuropsychiatric disorder with developmental and cognitive features), the lab is working through collaboration to understand the role that pathways of interest may play in this condition as well.
Research in the Morrow lab bridges campus and medical school efforts at Brown. The Morrow lab is located at the Laboratory for Molecular Medicine at 70 Ship Street. The Lab partners with the Developmental Disorders Genetics Research Program (DDGRP) in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior which occupies patient-oriented research space at Bradley Hospital for Children in East Providence. Significant efforts are underway to establish a multi-site collaborative for study of genetics of developmental disorders across the lifespan through the DDGRP and other centers at Brown University Medical School and in Rhode Island.
Grants and Awards2001 Harold Lamport Research Prize, Harvard Medical School
2005 Daland Fellow, American Philosophical Society
2005 Thomas P. Hackett Award, MGH Psychiatry
2007 MGH Rappaport Neuroscience Scholar, Harvard Medical School
2009 Roche Junior Investigator Award in Translational Neuroscience
AffiliationsSociety for Neuroscience
American Society of Human Genetics
Society of Biological Psychiatry
Funded ResearchOngoing Research Support
1K23MH080954-01 (PI: Morrow, E.M.)
Genetic investigation of cognitive development in autistic spectrum disorders.
Young Investigator Award (PI: Morrow, E.M.)
08/01/2007-06/30/2009 (in no cost extension)
Private/NARSAD (selected for the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation Investigator distinction)
Genes regulating dendrite formation in mild mental retardation and comorbid psychosis.
Career Award for Medical Scientists (PI: Morrow, E.M.)
Private/Burroughs Wellcome Fund
Identification of autism genes in special founder populations using high-density SNP microarrays.
Completed Research Support
Child Health Research Award (PI: Morrow, E.M.)
Private/Charles H. Hood Foundation
Genetics of autism spectrum disorders.
Daland Fellowship in Clinical Investigation (PI: Morrow, E.M)
Private/American Philosophical Society
Identifying Autosomal Recessive Genes in Familial Autism.
Scholar Grant in Clinical Psychiatry (PI: Morrow, E.M.)
Genetic Determinants of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Graduate student trainer in MCB and Neuroscience Training Programs.
Also involved in research training for fellows in psychiatry, neurology, and pediatrics.
Also involved in research training for fellows in psychiatry, neurology, and pediatrics.
- Walsh, C.A., Morrow, E.M., and Rubenstein, J.L. (2008). Autism and brain development. Cell 135: 396-400 (PMID: 18984148). (2008)
- Morrow, E.M., Yoo, S.Y., Flavell, S.W., Kim, T.K., Lin, Y., Hill, R.S., Mukaddes, N.M., Balkhy, S., Gascon, G., Hashmi, A., Al-Saad, S., Ware, J., Joseph, R.M., Greenblatt, R., Gleason, D., Ertelt, J.A., Apse, K.A., Bodell, A., Partlow, J.N., Barry, B., Yao, H., Markianos, K., Ferland, R.J., Greenberg, M.E., and Walsh, C.A. (2008). Identifying autism loci and genes by tracing recent shared ancestry. Science 321: 218-223 (PMID: 18621663). (2008)
- Levine, J.B., Morrow, E.M., Berdichevsky, Y., and Martin, G.E. (2007). BKca channel in autism and mental retardation. Am J Psychiatry 164: 977-978 (PMID: 17541064). (2007)
- Morrow, E.M., and Smoller, J.W. (2006). The interface of genetics and clinical psychiatry. Introduction. Harv Rev Psychiatry 14: 45-46 (PMID: 16603471). (2006)
- Morrow, E.M., Lafayette, J.M., Bromfield, E.B., and Fricchione, G. (2006). Postictal psychosis: presymptomatic risk factors and the need for further investigation of genetics and pharmacotherapy. Ann Gen Psychiatry 5: 9 (PMID: 16859554). (2006)
- Morrow, E.M., Furukawa, T., Raviola, E., and Cepko, C.L. (2005). Synaptogenesis and outer segment formation are perturbed in the neural retina of Crx mutant mice. BMC Neurosci 6: 5 (PMID: 15676071). (2005)
- Furukawa, T., Mukherjee, S., Bao, Z.Z., Morrow, E.M., and Cepko, C.L. (2000). rax, Hes1, and notch1 promote the formation of Muller glia by postnatal retinal progenitor cells. Neuron 26: 383-394 (PMID: 10839357). (2000)
- Cai, L., Morrow, E.M., and Cepko, C.L. (2000). Misexpression of basic helix-loop-helix genes in the murine cerebral cortex affects cell fate choices and neuronal survival. Development 127: 3021-3030 (PMID: 10862740). (2000)
- Morrow, E.M., Furukawa, T., Lee, J.E., and Cepko, C.L. (1999). NeuroD regulates multiple functions in the developing neural retina in rodent. Development 126: 23-36 (PMID: 9834183). (1999)
- Furukawa, T., Morrow, E.M., Li, T., Davis, F.C., and Cepko, C.L. (1999). Retinopathy and attenuated circadian entrainment in Crx-deficient mice. Nat Genet 23: 466-470 (PMID: 10581037). (1999)
- Morrow, E.M., Furukawa, T., and Cepko, C.L. (1998). Vertebrate photoreceptor cell development and disease. Trends Cell Biol 8: 353-358 (PMID: 9728396). (1998)
- Morrow, E.M., Belliveau, M.J., and Cepko, C.L. (1998). Two phases of rod photoreceptor differentiation during rat retinal development. J Neurosci 18: 3738-3748 (PMID: 9570804). (1998)
- Furukawa, T., Morrow, E.M., and Cepko, C.L. (1997). Crx, a novel otx-like homeobox gene, shows photoreceptor-specific expression and regulates photoreceptor differentiation. Cell 91: 531-541 (PMID: 9390562). (1997)