Zachary Morris ’02 earns $200,000 grant to help fund research

Ripon alumnus Dr. Zachary Morris ’02 recently received a prestigious scientific award of $200,000 to advance highly innovative research projects with implications for human health. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation presents the awards through its competitive and longstanding Shaw Scientist Program to early career faculty to advance highly innovative research projects with implications for human health.

“Wisconsin is brimming with talent, and by rewarding innovation, philanthropy can provide incentive for talented people to stay here, or relocate here, and contribute to bettering the health of others,” says Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the foundation.

Morris majored in chemistry and biology at Ripon College. He is an assistant professor of radiation oncology and vice-chair of human oncology at UW School of Medicine and Public Health. He aims to study how different doses of radiation therapy may impact the ability of a patient’s immune system to recognize their cancer and how radiation dose may affect the susceptibility of cancer cells to that immune response.

Morris plans to test whether brachytherapy – a particular type of radiation therapy that involves implanting a radioactive “seed” in a patient’s tumor – improves the tumor’s response to certain immunotherapies. Melanoma will be the first cancer tested, with the expectation of expanding this research to a wide variety of tumor types.

“In today’s research funding climate, philanthropic support plays a critical role in the development of new concepts, enabling researchers to take new ideas and advance these to more substantiated concepts with preliminary data to support their feasibility,” he says. “Without such support, it is very difficult to pursue the research needed to move new ideas into viable concepts for grants. Yet, those new ideas are the critical engine for innovation in science and medicine.”


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