Dr. Richard I. Morimoto is the Bill and Gayle Cook Professor of Biology and Director of the Rice Institute for Biomedical Research at Northwestern University.
He earned his B.S. from the University of Illinois at Chicago, subsequently received a Ph.D. in Biology at the laboratory of Professor Murray Rabinowitz, University of Chicago in 1978. He then conducted his postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Professor Matthew Meselson while also working as a Tutor in Biochemical Sciences at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. In 1982, Morimoto joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He has formerly served as the Chair of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, the Dean of The Graduate School, and the Associate Provost of Graduate Education at Northwestern. He frequently gives talks at universities and symposia throughout the world, and has been a Visiting Professor at Åbo Akademi University in Finland, Beijing University, École Normale Supérieure in Paris, Kyoto University, Kyoto Sangyo University, Osaka University, University of Rome, and Technion University in Israel. He is a founder of the biotech company Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc in Cambridge MA, which develops small molecule therapeutics to treat diseases related to protein homeostasis.
Some of his honors include:
Fyodor Lynen Lecturer – German Society of Biochemistry
Commandeur – Ordre des Palmes Académiques, France
Fellow – Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Elected Fellow – American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Elected Fellow- American Association for the Advancement of Science
National Institutes of Health MERIT Award- NIGMS, NIA
Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa – Abo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
Current Lab Members
My research interests include the identification and characterization of environmental signals in parallel with molecular, genetic, biochemical, cellular, and tissue components associated with networks regulating the emergence of complex living systems controlling development, physiology, behavior, fitness, and aging.
My research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases with the goal to identify effective strategies for treatment. My current project in the Morimoto lab aims to uncover the spatio-temporal dynamics of proteostasis capacity in healthy aging and in protein conformational diseases using C. elegans as a model system.
As the C. elegans technician for the Morimoto lab, I perform assays such as lifespan, heat shock, and RNAi genetic screens. I train new members of the lab in C. elegans techniques and prepare the published strains you request.
Summer Research Internship
Majoring in: Biology and Science in Human Culture
Minoring in: Chemistry
From: Brooklyn, NY, USA
My project aims to develop a live-cell probe that can be used to study the cellular effects of protein aggregation through the quantification of clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) in proteostasis. The quantification of CME can then be used to measure the vesicular trafficking arms of the proteostasis network upon protein aggregation in neuronal cells.
I am involved on projects understanding the regulation of protein homeostasis in the context of age-associated protein-misfolding diseases. Our work aims to establish a cellular model for Alzheimer’s disease and taupothies using patient-derived neurons by direct neuronal reprogramming of dermal fibroblasts. I am also involved in small molecule screens to identify regulators of the proteostasis network that enhance the protein folding cellular environment to prevent conformational diseases. As laboratory manager I also oversee laboratory stocks and reagent requests.
Graduate Student, NUIN
I am a PhD candidate in the Morimoto and Budinger/Misharin laboratories with a keen interest in using big-data approaches to better understand alterations to proteostasis in in aging and disease. I am currently studying alterations in microglial proteostasis in the mammalian CNS that may inform susceptibility to dementia in the elderly after infection. I focus heavily on bulk- and single-cell sequencing techniques, but I have now begun to explore whole-brain imaging after tissue clearing and behavioral analysis.
Majoring in: Biology and Math
From: Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey
As an undergraduate researcher in the Morimoto lab, I will be exploring the specificity of the proteostatic response by working with temperature-sensitive strains of C. elegans, where I will compare the movement and chaperone production of the strains to normal N2 worms.
Majoring in: Neuroscience and Piano Performance
From: Tokyo, Japan
My project aims to understand the mechanism of two candidate small molecules in improving the protein folding environment in the cell. My research will use human disease cell lines to study how these compounds and their synergistic combinations could lead to potential therapeutics for the prevention or treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Majoring in: Biology
From: Shanghai, China
I am an undergraduate student researcher with an interest in the cell-nonautonomous regulation of organismal proteostasis and aging. I look forward to kicking off my research project which investigates the intertissue communication of intestinal proteasome activity in C.elegans in the upcoming academic year.
Majoring in: Biology and Economics
From: Seoul, South Korea
I am an undergraduate student researcher conducting research with Post-Doc Xiaojing Sui on identifying when and where metastable proteins misfold in C. elegans. I have thus far learned proteomics data analysis techniques, LiP-MS/MS + immunostaining assay, and protein quantification assays.
Professor and Principal Investigator
Majoring in: Biology
From: London, England
As an undergraduate researcher in the Morimoto lab, I am able to plan and carry out my own research project where I am investigating the genes involved in elevated stress resistance of the C. elegans cbd-1 mutant.
Majoring in: Biological Sciences
From: Cincinnati, OH, USA
As an undergraduate researcher in the Morimoto lab, I work with the tau protein and tau protein aggregation. Specifically, I explore tau biology both in vitro and in vivo, as well as the interactions that occur between tau and different kinds of molecular chaperones.
Business Administrator II
Major: Neuroscience with a Minor in Chemistry
From: Cleveland, OH
Project: I plan on characterizing a set of candidate small molecules that the Morimoto Lab has previously shown to affect chromatin structure and enhance protein quality control and to prevent protein aggregation. Currently, I am examining how the BET inhibitors enhance protein folding using the human embryonic kidney 293 cell line.
The main focus of my research is to study mechanisms that coordinate proteostasis regulation across tissues, and to understand how these pathways contribute to aging and age-related diseases.
Pursuing a combined-BS/MS in biomedical engineering
From: Downers Grove, IL
As an undergraduate researcher, I work with Dr. Anan Yu to study the heat shock response. My project involves exploring the activation of the heat shock response following the treatment, as well as cotreatment, of cell models with small molecule compounds.
Postdoctoral Fellow (with Luis Amaral lab in Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Thomas is intrigued by the historical and cultural biases that have shaped genetic research. He uses data-scientific approaches to contrast an understanding of these biases with an unbiased assessment of individual genes derived from multi-omic studies. His goal is to identify overlooked factors contributing to some pressing, and already intensely researched, biological questions. He currently applies these insights to study novel aspects of aging and pneumonia, and hopes that his approach will also identify novel aspects of protein homeostasis.
My research goal is to uncover new protein quality control mechanisms and understand how their failure contributes to protein conformational diseases including neurodegenerative diseases. I do this by using cutting-edge proteomics at a massive scale, biochemistry, and genetics to manipulate specific pathways in C. elegans.
Graduate student, QSB
From: Taipei, Taiwan
As an incoming graduate student in the Morimoto lab, I’ll be working on studying biophysical properties and aggregation patterns of disease-associated proteins using C. elegans.
A detailed molecular understanding of how an organism copes with changes in protein degradation is essential for improving therapeutic interventions to increase protein degradation and improve proteostasis in patients with neurodegenerative diseases and related dementias. Using the model organism C. elegans, I’m investigating the tissue- and age-specific interplay of proteasome and autophagy activity during health and disease.
Research Assistant Professor
I use a single-cell analysis approach to study the temporal and molecular details of proteostasis collapse in cell models of aging and protein aggregation. Currently, I am focusing on studying tau proteotoxicity using induced neurons obtained through direct neuronal reprogramming of patient-derived dermal fibroblasts. With help from Sue and undergraduate students, we are exploring small-molecule strategies to restore proteostasis in cell model systems of protein aggregation.
Majoring in: Biology and Psychology
From Chicago, IL, USA
I recently joined the Morimoto lab and am currently working on a project that aims to design a fluorescent biosensor to quantify proteostasis in C. elegans.