You are here

Casey D Morrow, PhD

Professor
Department of Cell, Developmntl, & Integrative Biology
MCLM 680
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL 35294
Phone: : (205) 934-5705
Fax: (205) 934-1580
E-mail: caseym@uab.edu
Full CV
Website

My training, research experience and administrative expertise qualify me to carry out the proposed research.  I have previous training as a graduate student and post-doctoral fellow in immunology and molecular virology while at UCLA.  My laboratory during the last 25 years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has investigated replication and pathogenesis of picornaviruses (poliovirus) and retroviruses (human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and murine leukemia virus (MuLV)).  During the last 20 years, my laboratory has focused research on the replication of HIV.  I have been funded by the National Institutes of Health for this work during this time.  I have supervised graduate students, post-docs and technicians and the work has resulted in over 100 publications.

I have now decided on a new research direction that is more translational in nature.  I strongly believe a fruitful avenue for future research is the role of the human microbiome in homeostasis and human health. I have established the requisite core group of scientists at UAB for complete microbiome analysis that includes the acquisition and processing of fecal samples for DNA, PCR with barcoded primers, NextGen sequencing and bioinformatics.  I am the Director of the UAB Microbiome Resource.

I am most interested in the impact that microbiome imbalance (dysbiosis) can catalyze a wide array of disease states.  Ultimately, I believe the imbalance of the microbiome can lead to a reduced quality of life.  I also believe that a greater understanding of the microbiome will lead to the development and use of a personalized probiotics that can be used to improve the quality of life.

Education:

University of California, Irvine - B.A. 1978, Biology
University of California, Irvine - B.S. 1978, Chemistry
University of California, Los Angeles - Ph.D. 1982, Immunology
University of California, Los Angeles - Postdoc 1985, Virology

Research Interests:

Role of the Microbiome in Health and Disease
In the last few years, I have embarked on a new research direction that is more translational in nature - the role of the human microbiome in homeostasis and human health. The human body is inhabited by a vast number of bacteria, referred to as the microbiota, microflora, or normal flora. The microbiota colonizes virtually every surface of the human body that is exposed to the external environment. By far the most heavily colonized organ is the gastrointestinal tract; the colon alone is estimated to contain over 70% of all the microbes in the human body. We are just beginning to understand the roles of that these microbes have in the productions of nutrients that are essential for health.

The composition and roles of the bacteria on humans has been intensely studied in the past few years. It is estimated that the humans contains as many as 1014 bacterial cells, a number that is 10 times greater than the number of human cells present in our bodies. The development of new technologies to characterize the vast numbers of microbiota is collectively referred to as a “microbiome analysis”. As the Director of the UAB Microbiome Resource, I have established the requisite core group of scientists at UAB for complete microbiome analysis that includes the acquisition and processing of fecal samples for DNA, NextGen sequencing and bioinformatics. The resource helps numerous UAB investigators in their efforts to understand the impact of the microbiome in research areas including adult and pediatric obesity, gastroenterology, nutrition, host physiology, energy metabolism and microbial ecology.

My own research interests are focused on the impact that microbiome imbalance (dysbiosis) has on a wide array of disease states. In our current work, we collaborate with Dr. Martin Rodriguez to characterize the microbiome in patients that have undergone fecal transplants for treatment of C. difficile infections, with the long-term goal to understand the dynamics of gut microbiome constitution following transplant. For these studies we also work with Dr. Casey Weaver, who directs the gnotobiotic mouse facility at UAB, to model aspects of the human transplants in mice.

A second area of research focuses on role that the microbiome plays on the development of cancer, the impact of chemotherapy on the microbiome and how the manipulation of the microbiome can improve the outcome of treatment. For these studies, we collaborate with researchers interested in stomach, brain, colorectal, pancreatic and breast cancer.

Finally, we have ongoing collaborations with members of the Division of Infectious Disease on studies on the impact of sexually transmitted diseases on the vaginal and urethral microbiomes and how HIV infection and anti-retroviral drugs impact the gut microbiome.

Ultimately, we intend to use the information obtained in our research efforts to develop a personalized medicine approach for the management of the human microbiome in health and disease.

Selected Publications:

  • Kumar, R., C. Maynard, P. Eipers, K.T. Goldsmith, T. Ptacek, A. Grubbs, P. Dixon, D. Howard, D.K. Crossman, M. Crowley, W. Benjamin, E.J. Lefkowitz, C.T. Weaver, J.M. Rodriguez and C.D. Morrow. 2014. Microbiome Restoration Dynamics Revealed Using Colonization of Gnotobiotic MIce With Microbiota Obtained From Patients After Fecal Transplant for Recurrent C. difficile Infection. In Preparation
  • Stoll, M.L., R. Kumar, C.D. Morrow, E.J. Lefkowitz, X. Cui, A. Genin, R.Q. Cron and, C.O. Elson. 2014. Dysbiosis Triggering Abnormal Humoral Immune Responses to Commensal Organisms in Juvenile Spondyloarthritis. Submitted. Brawner, K.M., C.D. Morrow and P. D. Smith. 2014. Gastric Microbiome and Gastric Cancer. The Cancer Journal: The Journal of Principles & Practice of Oncology . 20: 211. 24855010
  • Kumar, R., P. Eipers, R.B. Little, M. Crowley, D.K. Crossman, E.J. Lefkowitz and C.D. Morrow. 2014. Getting Started with Microbiome Analysis: Sample Acquisition to Bioinformatics. Current Protocols in Human Genetics. In Press.