Department of Molecular Medicine

morris James L. 'Jay'  Morris, Jr.Ph.D.

Assistant Professor/Research

Profile and Contact Information | Research



Research Program

My research is focused in two primary areas. The first, is determining the role EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), a polyphenol from green tea, has in the initiation and progression of colon cancer. EGCG possess numerous biologically beneficial properties, one of which is the regression or perturbation of epigenetic silencing mechanisms. Specifically I am focusing on colon cancers which undergo silencing due to promoter methylation within specific genes, for example RXRα. I use both human cell lines and animal models to investigate how this process can slow tumor progression through decreasing promoter methylation and restore protein activity. Along with RXRα, I am researching how changes in the methylome due to EGCG treatment effects tumor progression in certain types of colon cancers (HNPCC – Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer).

The second, more wide ranging, area of research is understanding the role of natural products, from plants or marine life, in aiding prevention or treatments of diseases or secondary maladies resulting from current mainline therapies. My background in food science, yeast biology, plant biochemistry, molecular biology and human nutrition plays an important role in initializing early stage studies with these single compounds or mixed extracts from plant or marine materials. Using cell lines, animal models and some predictive assumptions based upon structure I determine the diseases in which an effect might be observed. Also, these early stage tests are used to determine effect dose concentrations, active fractions or active compound(s) from these source samples.


Selected Publications

  1. Patel MJ, Tripathy S, De Mukhopadhyay K, Wangjam T, Cabang AB, Morris J, Wargovich MJ. (2018) A Supercritical Co2 Extract of Neem Leaf (A. indica) and its Bioactive Liminoid, Nimbolide, Suppresses Colon Cancer in Preclinical Models by Modulating Pro-inflammatory Pathways. Mol Carcinogenesis doi: 10.1002/mc.22832. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 29697164

  2. Cabang AB, De Mukhopadhyay K, Meyers S, Morris J, Zimba PV, Wargovich MJ. (2017) Therapeutic effects of the euglenoid ichthytoxin euglenophycin, in colon cancer. Oncotarget 8(61):104347-104358. PMCID:5732811

  3. Andrijauskaite, Kristina, Morris J, Wargovich M. Natural Anticancer Agents: Modifying the Epigenome to Prevent and Treat Cancer In: Epigenetics of Chemoprevention. San Diego: Elsevier; 2017. p. 1 - 36.

  4. Morris J, Moseley VR, Cabang AB, Coleman K, Wei W, Garrett-Mayer E, Wargovich MJ. (2016) Reduction in promotor methylation utilizing EGCG (Epigallocatechin-3-gallate) restores RXRα expression in human colon cancer cells. Oncotarget.

  5. Morris J, Fang Y, De Mukhopadhyay K, Wargovich MJ (2016) Natural Agents Used in Chemoprevention of Aerodigestive and GI Cancer. Curr Pharm Rep. 2(1):1-10.

  6. Khoogar R, Kim BC, Morris J, Wargovich MJ. (2016) Targeting the progression of cancer with natural products: A focus on gastrointestinal cancer. Am J of Physiol Gastro and Liver Physiol. 310: G629–G644, 2016.

  7. Dodds SG, Livi CB, Manish P, Hang-Kai H, Benavides AD, Morris J, Javors M, Strong R, Christy B, Hasty P, Sharp ZD. (2016) Adaptions to chronic rapamycin in mice. Pathobiol Aging Age Rel Dis. 6(1): 6:31688. PMCID: PMC4884683

  8. Morris J, Hirschi, K Yang, J. Biofortifying foods: Tripping over high hurdles. Int J of Biotech and Food Sci 2014 Jan;2(1):102-116.

  9. Moseley, VR, Morris JL, Knackstedt, RW and Wargovich, MJ. Green tea polyphenols, epigallocatechin 3-gallate, EGCG contributes to the degradation of DNMT3a and HDAC3 in HCT116 human colon cancer cells. Anticancer Research 2013 Dec;33(12):5325-5333.

  10. Li X, Yang J, Morris J, Hester A, Nakata PA, and Hirschi KD: (2012) Genetically modified medicago truncatula lacking calcium oxalate has increased calcium bioavailability and partially rescues vitamin D receptor knockout mice phenotypes. J Bioequiv Availab. 5(1): 47-52.

  11. Wargovich MJ, Morris J, Moseley V, Weber R, and Byrne DH: (2012) Chapter 2: Developing fruit cultivars with enhanced health properties. In: Badenes ML and Byrne DH, editors. Fruit Breeding, Handbook of Plant Breeding, Vol. 8, ISBN: 978-1-4419-0762-2. Springer Science. p. 37-68.

  12. Wargovich J, Brown VR, and Morris J: (2010) Aberrant crypt foci: the case for inclusion as a biomarker for colon cancer. Cancers. 2(3): 1705-16.

  13. Wargovich MJ, Morris J, Brown V, Ellis J, Logothetis B, and Weber R: (2010) Nutraceutical use in late-stage cancer. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 29(3): 503-10.

  14. Hawthorne KM, Morris J, Hotze T, Hirschi KD, and Abrams SA: (2009) Biotechnologically-modified carrots: calcium absorption relative to milk. J Bioequiv Availab. 1: 034-038. doi:10.4172/jbb.1000006.

  15. Morris J, Tian H, Park S, Sreevidya CS, Ward JM, and Hirschi KD: (2008) AtCCX3 is an Arabidopsis endomembrane H+ -dependent K+ transporter. Plant Physiol. 148(3): 1474-86.

  16. Morris J and Hirschi K: (2008) Calcium transporters: from fields to the table. In: Jaiwal PK, Singh RP, and Dhankher OP, editors. Plant Membrane and Vacuolar Transporters. Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: CABI Head Office. p. 51-82.

  17. Morris J, Hawthorne KM, Hotze T, Abrams SA, and Hirschi KD: (2008) Nutritional impact of elevated calcium transport activity in carrots. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 105(5): 1431-5.

  18. Morris J, Nakata PA, McConn M, Brock A, and Hirschi KD: (2007) Increased calcium bioavailability in mice fed genetically engineered plants lacking calcium oxalate. Plant Mol Biol. 64(5): 613-8.

  19. Koren’kov V, Park S, Cheng NH, Sreevidya C, Lachmansingh J, Morris J, Hirschi K, and Wagner GJ: (2007) Enhanced Cd2+ -selective root-tonoplast-transport in tobaccos expressing Arabidopsis cation exchangers. Planta. 225(2): 403-11.

  20. Park S, Li J, Pittman JK, Berkowitz GA, Yang H, Undurraga S, Morris J, Hirschi KD, and Gaxiola RA: (2005) Up-regulation of a H+-pyrophosphatase (H+-PPase) as a strategy to engineer drought-resistant crop plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 102(52): 18830-5.

  21. Pittman JK, Shigaki T, Marshall JL, Morris JL, Cheng NH, and Hirschi KD: (2004) Functional and regulatory analysis of the Arabidopsis thaliana CAX2 cation transporter. Plant Mol Biol. 56(6): 959-71.

  22. Park SH, Morris JL, Park JE, Hirschi KD, and Smith RH: (2003) Efficient and genotype-independent Agrobacterium — mediated tomato transformation. J Plant Physiol. 160(10): 1253-7.