Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is a unique joint venture with a distinct integrative approach to research. Established in 2011, CRI is positioned to build upon the comprehensive clinical expertise of Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and the internationally recognized scientific excellence of UT Southwestern Medical Center.
CRI’s mission is to perform transformative biomedical research to better understand the biological
basis of disease, seeking breakthroughs that can change scientific fields and yield new strategies for treating disease.
Located in Dallas, Texas, CRI is creating interdisciplinary groups of exceptional scientists and physicians to pursue research at the interface of regenerative medicine, cancer biology and metabolism, which together hold uncommon potential for discoveries that can yield groundbreaking advances in science and medicine.
In 2013, CRI launched its Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program, the first demonstration of the institute’s intentional design as a joint venture with an integrative approach to research and medicine. As such, the program is closely aligned with the clinical Division of Genetics and Metabolism at Children’s Medical Center to provide streamlined opportunities for translational studies.
The goal of the program is to better understand the biological basis of childhood genetic diseases and to improve therapy. A particular focus is on diseases that impact metabolism, which account for the largest subset of known genetic disorders, and which have been successfully treated when molecular mechanisms have been identified.
CRI is led by Sean J. Morrison, Ph.D. In addition to his positions of Professor and Director of CRI,
Dr. Morrison holds the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics at UT Southwestern and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
Dr. Morrison also is the principal investigator for the Hamon Laboratory for Stem Cell and Cancer Biology at CRI, which pursues research on the mechanisms that regulate stem cell function in the nervous and blood-forming systems, and the ways in which those mechanisms are hijacked by cancer cells.
CRI is currently home to three other laboratories, led by Ralph J. DeBerardinis, M.D., Ph.D.; Woo-Ping Ge, Ph.D.; and Hao Zhu, M.D. Eventually, CRI will house more than a dozen laboratories conducting biomedical research at the interface of regenerative medicine, cancer biology and metabolism.
Dr. DeBerardinis is Associate Professor at CRI, Director of CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program, and Sowell Family Scholar in Medical Research. His laboratory conducts research to identify metabolic disturbances in cancer and other diseases, to understand how those disturbances interfere with normal cellular function, to develop new diagnostic methods to monitor them in patients, and to design new therapies to restore normal metabolism and improve health.
Dr. Ge holds the position of Assistant Professor at CRI. His laboratory studies the mechanisms underlying glial cell generation and the interactions between brain vasculature and the nervous system under different physiological and pathological conditions, in hopes of developing therapeutic targets for treating diseases such as stroke and brain tumors.
Dr. Zhu also holds the position of Assistant Professor at CRI. His laboratory focuses on research related to the genetic events that contribute to cancer and organ regeneration, to better understand the early stages of cancer development — specifically in the liver — and potentially detect and treat cancers before they become incurable.