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Morris Lab makes the Final Four of biomedical research

Cellular tracking system featured in STAT Madness competition

March 29, 2019

Huy Mach/Gaia Remerowski

We all know what the Final Four means in the world of college basketball. But there’s another March Madness underway — STAT Madness, a competition featuring cutting-edge biomedical research — and Washington University School of Medicine has made its national semifinals.

A research team led by Samantha A. Morris, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental biology, was one of 64 teams chosen to compete in the March Madness of science and medicine. STAT Madness is a playoff-style competition that pits the nation’s research institutions against each other in search of the top biomedical innovations of 2018. The tournament is hosted by STAT, an online publication focused on medicine, health and scientific discovery.

Unlike the NCAA Tournament, STAT Madness’ winners in each round are determined by popular vote. The final winner will be announced April 8, as will an editor’s pick — the latter based on the originality, rigor and potential impact of the research.

The competition’s Final Four has Washington University School of Medicine facing University of Utah Health, and University of Michigan Medicine facing Baylor College of Medicine.

Morris’ team made the tournament for its development of a cellular tracking system that can give scientists a new view of how cells develop. This “flight data recorder” for cells one day could help scientists guide cells along the right paths to regenerate certain tissues or organs, or help researchers understand the wrong turns some cells might take on their way to becoming cancerous.

Fans can vote on the semifinals matchups through 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday, April 2. Voting for the final round will open the next day and will close at 5 p.m. ET Friday, April 5.

Here’s the STAT Madness bracket. Go, WashU!

Huy uses visual storytelling in his coverage of medical education, patient care, and research. He was part of a team of photographers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2015. He has a bachelor's degree in photojournalism from Western Kentucky University.