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Professor Richard Morgan

PositionDirector, Institute of Cancer Therapeutics and Professor of Molecular Oncology
Location1.12, ICT building
DepartmentInstitute of Cancer Therapeutics
Telephone+44 (0) 1274 233225
LinkedInVisit my LinkedIn profile

Research Interests (key words only)

Cancer, Transcription, Drug discovery, HOX genes, EN2, Biomarker

Administrative Responsibilities

Director of the Institute for Cancer Therapeutics

Research Director for the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Study History

1993 - PhD Biochemistry, University of Birmingham

1990 - BA Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professional History

2006-2014 Senior Lecturer in Molecular Oncology, University of Surrey

2000-2006 Lecturer in Cell and Developmental Biology, St. George's, University of London

1997-2000 Postdoctoral Scientist, Hubrecht Laboratory for Developmental Biology, Utrecht, The Netherlands

1993-1997 Postdoctoral Scientist, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London

Research Areas

Oncology, Cancer biology, Biomarkers, Drug development, Transcription

Current Projects

My group is developing strategies to target the HOX / Engrailed family of homeodomain containing transcription factors in cancer. Work starting in 2004 gave rise to the currently only available antagonist of HOX function, HXR9, which represents a novel therapeutic approach in cancer. I have a number of active industrial collaborations to further develop this technology, including the synthesis of small molecule inhibitors of HOX proteins.

In addition, we are studying the potential of HOX and Engrailed transcription factors as biomarkers for the diagnosis of a number of cancers including that of the prostate, lung and bladder. Our work has identified the EN2 transcription factor as a diagnostic marker for prostate cancer with twice the sensitivity of the currently used marker, PSA, and a high predictive value for tumour volume. EN2 is now undergoing clinical trials at multiple, international centres.

Research Collaborations

  • Dept Medicine, UCLA, USA
  • St. George’s, University of London
  • University of Kingston
  • University of Essen
  • Instituto Superiore Sanita, Rome
  • Randox Diagnostics Ltd (UK)
  • Zeus Diagnostics Inc (NJ, USA)


Bradford Scholars listing of publications can be accessed here


  1. Morgan R, El-Tanani M, Hunter KD, Harrington KJ, Pandha H. Targeting HOX/PBX dimers in cancer. Oncotarget 2017, in press,[]=15971&author-preview=cbn
  2. Dakir El-H, Tanani El-M, Dakir NM, Mendoza A, Morgan R. EGFR – An Evolving Cancer Target. Cancer Biology and Therapeutic Oncology 2017;1:1-3
  3. Alharbi RA, Pandha HS, Simpson GR, Pettengell R, Poterlowicz K, Thompson A, Harrington K, El-Tanani M, Morgan RInhibition of HOX/PBX dimer formation leads to necroptosis in acute myeloid leukemia cells. Oncotarget 2017; Advanced online publication:


  1. Yuen H-F, Chan K-K, Platt-Higgins A, Dakir E-H, Matchett KB, Haggag YA, Jithesh PV, Habib T, Faheem A, D Fennel, Morgan R, Rudland PS, El-Tanani M. Ran GTPase promotes cancer progression via Met receptor-mediated downstream signalling. Oncotarget 2016;7:75854-64.
  2. Kelly Z, Morgan R, Pandha H, Michael A. The prognostic significance of HOX genes in ovarian cancer.  Int J Cancer. 2016;139(7):1608-17. doi:10.1002/ijc.30204
  3. El-Tanani M, Dakir EH, Raynor B, Morgan R. Mechanisms of Nuclear Export in Cancer and Resistance to Chemotherapy. Cancers. 2016 14;8(3). pii:E35. Review. PubMed PMID: 26985906.
  4. Morgan R, El-Tanani M. HOX genes as potential markers of circulating tumor cells. Current Molecular Medicine 2016 16(4) :322-327  PubMed PMID: 26980702.
  5. Morgan R, Harrington K, Simpson GR, Gillett C, Tabi Z, Spicer J, Michael A, Pandha HS. HOX transcription factors are potential therapeutic targets in malignant mesothelioma. BMC Cancer 2016;16:85


  1. Platais C, Hakami F, Darda L, Lambert DW, Morgan R, Hunter KD. The role of HOX genes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. J Oral Pathol Med. 2015 Dec 14.doi: 10.1111/jop.12388. Review. PubMed PMID: 26661059
  2. McGrath SE, Michael A, Morgan R, Pandha H. EN2 in Prostate Cancer. Adv Clin Chem. 2015;71:47-76. doi:0.1016/bs.acc.2015.06.002. PubMed PMID: 26411411
  3. De Paoli M, Perco P, Mühlberger I, Lukas A, Pandha H, Morgan R, Feng GJ, Marquette C. Disease map-based biomarker selection and pre-validation for bladder cancer diagnostics. Biomarkers. 2015 Jul 31:1-10. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26227542
  4. Darda L, Hakami F, Morgan R, Murdoch C, Lambert DW, Hunter KD. The role of HOXB9 and miR-196a in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma. PLoS One. 2015 10(4):e0122285. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122285


  1. Morgan R, Boxall A, Harrington K, Waters V, Simpson G, Michael A, Pandha HS. Targeting HOX transcription factors in prostate cancer. BMC Urol. 2014 Feb 5;14(1):17
  2. Ando H, Natsume A, Senga T, Watanabe R, Ito I, Ohno M, Iwami K, Ohka F, Motomura K, Saito K, Morgan R, Wakabayashi T. Peptide-based inhibition of the HOXA9/PBX interaction retards the growth of human meningioma. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2014 Jan;73(1):53-60
  3. Killick E, Morgan R, Launchbury F, Bancroft E, Page E, Castro E, Kote-Jarai Z,Aprikian A, Blanco I, Clowes V, Domchek S, Douglas F, Eccles D, Evans DG, Harris M, Kirk J, Lam J, Lindeman G, Mitchell G, Pachter N, Selkirk C, Tucker K, Zgajnar J, Eeles R, Pandha H. Role of Engrailed-2 (EN2) as a prostate cancer detection biomarker in genetically high risk men. Sci Rep. 2013; 3:2059. doi: 10.1038/srep02059
  4. McGrath SE, Michael A, Pandha H, Morgan R. Engrailed homeobox transcription factors as potential markers and targets in cancer. FEBS Lett. 2013 Mar 18;587(6):549-54
  5. Errico MC, Felicetti F, Bottero L, Mattia G, Boe A, Felli N, Petrini M, Bellenghi M, Pandha HS, Calvaruso M, Tripodo C, Colombo MP, Morgan R, Caré A. The abrogation of the HOXB7/PBX2 complex induces apoptosis in melanoma through the miR-221&222-c-FOS pathway. Int J Cancer. 2013 Aug 15;133(4):879-92
  6. Morgan R, Bryan R, Javed S, Launchbury F, Zeegers MP, Cheng KK, James ND, Wallace DMA, Hurst CD, Ward DG , Knowles MA, Pandha HS. Expression of Engrailed-2(EN2) protein in bladder cancer and its potential utility as a urinary diagnostic biomarker. European Journal of Cancer. 2013 Jun; 49(9):2214-22
  7. Li Z, Zhang Z, Li Y, Chen P, Arnovitz S, Huang A, Jiang X, He C, Dohner K, Neilly MB, Wang C-Z, Bullinger L, Valk PJM, Delwel R, Lowenberg R, Morgan R, Yuan C, Rowley JD, Chen J. The HOXA/PBX3 axis is a prognostic biomarker and druggable target in cytogenetically abnormal acute myeloid leukaemia. Blood 2013 Feb 21;121(8):1422-31
  8. Morgan R, Boxall A, Harrington K, Simpson GR, Michael A, Pandha HS. Targeting the HOX / PBX dimer in breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2012, 136: 389-398
  9. Alharbi R, Pettengell R, Pandha HS, Morgan R. The role of HOX genes in normal hematopoiesis and acute leukaemia. Leukemia 2013; 27:1000-8

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