Samantha A. Morris, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental biology and of genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has received the New York Stem Cell Foundation’s Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Award. She is one of three investigators receiving the award this year. It recognizes outstanding early-career scientists and provides each $1.5 million over five years to support their research.
The award honors investigators conducting cutting-edge research with the potential to speed treatments and cures for human diseases. Morris’ lab is focused on understanding how cells transition from one type to another, including from a stem cell state to a fully developed adult cell or from one adult cell type to another adult cell type, a transition called direct conversion.
Her lab has developed tools and techniques to map the molecular pathways and waypoints these cells pass through on their way to becoming different cell types. She is using these technologies to track direct conversion with the goal of growing portions of the small intestine to be able to treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.