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 Health System of Texas 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 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.
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. 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.
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 and a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research.
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 four other laboratories, led by Ralph J. DeBerardinis, M.D., Ph.D.; Woo-Ping Ge, Ph.D.; Jian Xu, Ph.D.; and Hao Zhu, M.D. Eventually, CRI will house more than a dozen laboratories.
Dr. DeBerardinis is an Associate Professor at CRI and Director of CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program. He also holds the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D. Chair in Pediatrics at UT Southwestern. 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 is an Assistant Professor at CRI and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience at UT Southwestern. 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. Xu is an Assistant Professor at CRI, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, and a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. His lab studies the molecular mechanisms that regulate blood cell production and how that process goes wrong in leukemia.
Dr. Zhu is an Assistant Professor at CRI, an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at UT Southwestern, and a CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research. His laboratory focuses on research related to the genetic events that contribute to cancer and organ regeneration, to better understand cancer development — specifically in the liver — and potentially detect and treat cancers before they become incurable.