Where, what, why and who?
We are a leukaemia research group based in the department of Biochemistry & Biomedicine, School of Life Sciences, at the University of Sussex. We are also part of the Haematology Research group (HRG) at Sussex, a network of collborative research groups with shared interests in normal and malignant haematology across the School of Life Sciences and Brighton & Sussex Medical School.
University of Sussex Falmer campus
Our research investigates the role of a signal transduction cascade, Wnt signalling, in both normal blood development and haematological malignancy. Ultimately we want to understand how this cell signalling pathway converts normal healthy blood cells into malignant leukaemia cells with the aim of designing novel therapeutic interventions for patients. Please see Our Research section to find out more about what we do.
Normal bone marrow aspirate from a healthy donor AML bone marrow aspirate with leukaemia blasts
Specifically we focus on a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). According to Cancer Research UK (CRUK) statistics, there are around 3,200 new cases of AML per year in the UK which affects both adults and children. Survival rates for this devastating disease have improved markedly over the past 50 years, however treatment of specific patient subsets continues to be a challenge, particularly since chemotherapies from the 1960-70's remain the main treatment strategy. As we enter a new era of patient tailorised medicine, hope now lies with more highly targeted, better tolerated, molecular therapies that induce long-lasting remissions.
UK incidence of AML (Cancer Research UK)
Dr. Morgan completed his BSc in Biomedical Science at the University of Portsmouth before completing a PhD in Experimental Haematology at Cardiff University. His thesis examined the role of a Wnt signalling protein (γ-catenin) in AML under the supervision of Professors Alan Burnett, Richard Darley and Alex Tonks. From here Rhys joined the School of Cellular & Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol to pursue his interests in signal transduction and cancer biology. Under the supervision of Professors Christos Paraskeva and Ann Williams he undertook post-doctoral studies investigating the role of the stem cell marker LGR5 and Wnt/EGF signal transduction in colorectal cancer.
Whilst at Bristol, Rhys was awarded a prestigious Kay Kendall Leukaemia Fund (KKLF) Junior Fellowship in 2016 targeting Wnt/β-catenin signalling in AML which remains his primary research focus. In 2018 Rhys moved his fellowship to the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex to establish his own leukaemia research laboratory and is now a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science in the department of Biochemistry & Biomedicine.
In 2020 Rhys joined Leukaemia and Myeloma Research UK (LMRUK) as a member of the Research & Review Committee. Dr. Morgan is also an advocate of stem cell donation and continues to work with Anthony Nolan and their sister organisation Marrow (student led recruitment on UK university campuses) to promote awareness and registration onto the bone marrow register. Read about Rhys's stem cell donation which reached national press.
Dr. Rhys Morgan donating stem cells in May 2016