Derrick Morton

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Gerontology
Derrick Morton
Pronouns He / Him / His Email

Research & Practice Areas

RNA Biology, Molecular Neuroscience, Drosophila, Human Stem Cells, Human Brain Organoids


  • Ph.D. Biology, Clark Atlanta University, 5/2016
  • B.S. Biology, Eastern Kentucky University, 5/2009
    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University , 09/01/2016-08/31/2020
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Assistant Professor, Molecular and Computational Biology, University of Southern California , 08/2021 –

    Research, Teaching, Practice, and Clinical Appointments

    • Assistant Professor , Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine , 2020-2021

    PostDoctoral Appointments

    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University , 09/2016 – 08/2020

    Visiting and Temporary Appointments

    • Visiting Associate , California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 06/2020
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    The primary research goal of my lab is to study the fundamental mechanisms of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression with an emphasis on RNA processing factors mutated in complex brain disorders. Specifically, we are interested in the post-transcriptional activities of a multi-subunit RNA processing enzyme, the RNA exosome complex, in human neurodevelopment and disease. In my lab, we have taken the strategy of coupling in vivo Drosophila genetics with in vitro human iPSC-derived brain organoid models to understand how defects in subunits of the ubiquitous and essential RNA exosome complex cause tissue-specific consequences.

    Research Keywords

    RNA Biology, RNA-regulatory complexes, RNA Processing, RNA exosome, Gene expression, Neurological disease, Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia, Drosophila model, Human Brain Organoids

    Research Specialties

    RNA Biology, Molecular Neuroscience, Drosophila, Human Stem Cells, Human Brain Organoids

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Investigating RNA dysregulation in Neurological Disease through study of Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia, (NIH NINDS), Derrick Morton, Ph.D., $2,072,000, 04/2023 – 03/2028
    • Toward Understanding the Molecular Basis of RNA exosome-linked Neurological Disorders, (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation), Derrick Morton, Ph.D., $75,000, 09/2023 – 08/2025
    • (Spring 2024) BISC 402. RNA Biology and Biotechnology, TTh 02:00pm – 03:50pm,
    • Sloan Research Fellowship Recipient, 2023-2025
    • Burroughs Wellcome, Postdoctoral Career Development Award , 2017/09/01-2021/08/31
    • 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America, Cell Press CrossTalk , 2020-2021
    • Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2017/09/01-2020/08/31
    • NIH Institutional Research and Career Development Award (IRACDA) Postdoctroal Fellow, 2016/09/01-2020/08/31
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