Nick Morris, PhD - 6/26/2019

I was born in 1949 in Los Angeles to Greek parents, one an immigrant, one born in the US and I have three sisters and a brother (I am a classic middle child). I met my wife, Anna, also with Greek immigrant parents, in high school and we have been married now for 47.5 years.  We have three children and, so far, only one grandchild, Theo, but we are hoping for more.  I worked for the first half of my career in skeletal biology. I helped identify several new structural proteins, mostly collagens, in bone and cartilage, and was trying to understand their contribution to the structure organization and function of these tissues.  This research was very basic, and it was never clear that there would be therapeutic benefit to the knowledge we obtained, although some of these molecules were linked to inherited diseases.  In 2001, I took the opportunity to switch careers and move across the Willamette River to the Providence Portland Medical Center. I joined a research institute focused on translational medicine in cancer.  The goal was to move discoveries in the laboratory to clinical trials in patients as rapidly as possible.  Here the laboratory scientists, clinical and radiation oncologists, and surgeons work together to support this process.  I worked with a group that was targeting the OX40 activating receptor on T cells.  I developed two proteins that could stimulate T cells via OX40 in humans and the clinical trials commenced in 2006.  It was a thrill to have developed an agent that actually went into a patient, and I hope that I will get another chance with the new therapies we are currently working on, both at Providence and at our small biotech company, Agonox.

We have lived in the same house for 32 years so I would say that my main hobbies (besides Theo) are home repair and remodeling, landscape and gardening.  I am still a Dodger, Laker, and Rams fan and usually one of them is having a good season.  I read a lot, usually anything that crossed my path, but I especially like history and historical fiction (this applies to movies as well).  I am also a news and political junkie.

Finally, besides researching cancer immunotherapy, I am also a cancer patient.  I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013 at Gleason Stage 7 (4+3), PSA 6.1. I received a radical prostatectomy that year but the cancer recurred in 2016.  I underwent salvage radiation in combination with six months of Lupron to ablate testosterone and as of May 31 this year, my PSA is still zero.  New therapeutic options for prostate cancer are in works so I am hopeful for the future.

Full Disclosure: Ethan is my brother in law and is married to my beautiful sister Margaret.

Education:

UCLA, B.A. 1971, Department of Biology
UCLA Ph.D. 1977 Department of Biology  (Developmental Biology and Biochemistry)

Postdoctoral Training:

National Institutes of Health 1978-1980
Harbor UCLA Medical Center 1980-1983

Employment:

Shriner’s Hospital for Children, Portland, OR, Associate Scientist, Skeletal biology, 1983 -2001
Oregon Health Sciences University, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 1983-2001
Providence Portland Medical Center, Earl A. Chiles Research Institute Senior Scientist, Cancer Immunotherapy, 2001-2019
Agonox. Inc,. Senior Scientist, Biotechnology, engaged in the discovery of new targets for immunotherapy of cancer. 2011-2019

Publications related to cancer immunotherapy

Potent Immune Modulation by MEDI6383, an Engineered Human OX40 Ligand IgG4P Fc Fusion Protein.
 Oberst MD, Augé C, Morris C, Kentner S, Mulgrew K, McGlinchey K, Hair J, Hanabuchi S, Du Q, Damschroder M, Feng H, Eck S, Buss N, de Haan L, Pierce AJ, Park H, Sylwester A, Axthelm MK, Picker L, Morris NP, Weinberg A, Hammond SA.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 May;17(5):1024-1038. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-17-0200. Epub 2018 Mar 15.

Combinational Immunotherapy with Allo-DRibble Vaccines and Anti-OX40 Co-Stimulation Leads to Generation of Cross-Reactive Effector T Cells and Tumor Regression.
Yu G, Li Y, Cui Z, Morris NP, Weinberg AD, Fox BA, Urba WJ, Wang L, Hu HM.
Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 22;6:37558. doi: 10.1038/srep37558.

OX40 is a potent immune-stimulating target in late-stage cancer patients.
Curti BD, Kovacsovics-Bankowski M, Morris N, Walker E, Chisholm L, Floyd K, Walker J, Gonzalez I, Meeuwsen T, Fox BA, Moudgil T, Miller W, Haley D, Coffey T, Fisher B, Delanty-Miller L, Rymarchyk N, Kelly T, Crocenzi T, Bernstein E, Sanborn R, Urba WJ, Weinberg AD.
Cancer Res. 2013 Dec 15;73(24):7189-7198. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-4174. Epub 2013 Oct 31
Science gone translational: the OX40 agonist story.
Weinberg AD, Morris NP, Kovacsovics-Bankowski M, Urba WJ, Curti BD.
Immunol Rev. 2011 Nov;244(1):218-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2011.01069.x. Review

Signaling through OX40 enhances antitumor immunity.
Jensen SM, Maston LD, Gough MJ, Ruby CE, Redmond WL, Crittenden M, Li Y, Puri S, Poehlein CH, Morris N, Kovacsovics-Bankowski M, Moudgil T, Twitty C, Walker EB, Hu HM, Urba WJ, Weinberg AD, Curti B, Fox BA.
Semin Oncol. 2010 Oct;37(5):524-32. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2010.09.013. Review.

Development and characterization of recombinant human Fc:OX40L fusion protein linked via a coiled-coil trimerization domain.
Morris NP, Peters C, Montler R, Hu HM, Curti BD, Urba WJ, Weinberg AD.
Mol Immunol. 2007 May;44(12):3112-21. Epub 2007 Mar 19.

Anti-OX40 (CD134) administration to nonhuman primates: immunostimulatory effects and toxicokinetic study.
Weinberg AD, Thalhofer C, Morris N, Walker JM, Seiss D, Wong S, Axthelm MK, Picker LJ, Urba WJ.
J Immunother. 2006 Nov-Dec;29(6):575-85.