The bulk of Dr. Morgan’s career was at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he led a series of laboratories in the field of cell and gene therapy. He was a member of the team that published the first approved human gene transfer experiment in 1990 (N. Engl. J. Med. 323:570, 1990). Early in his career, he focused on the first-in-human applications of gene therapy for genetic diseases such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and research into gene therapy for hemophilia. He also led major research efforts into the application of gene therapy for infectious disease, specifically on HIV/AIDS, including one of the first clinical trials testing anti-HIV gene therapy in humans. He later switched focus to concentrate on cancer immunotherapy. Rick has extensively published on T-cell receptor (TCR) gene therapy and was the lead author on the first report where this technology was shown to mediate cancer regression in patients (Science 314:126, 2006).
In 2013, Rick made the switch from academia to industry to lead the immunotherapy efforts at bluebird bio where he was vice president of immunotherapy. Major accomplishments at bluebird include driving all pre-clinical activities for bluebird’s first oncology asset for the treatment of multiple myeloma, an anti-BCMA CAR. The successful clinical application of this technology was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med. 2019 May 2;380(18):1726-1737), culminating in the approval of this approach as medicine (Abecma) in 2021. In 2018, Rick moved to Editas Medicine as senior vice president of immunogenetics where he focused on gene editing applications in immunotherapy. At Editas, he led the development of off-the-shelf cellular treatments for cancer immunotherapy using gene edited NK cells. Externally, Rick served as a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), and he is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Keystone symposia.
Rick is an author of more than 200 scientific publications including papers with Nobel laureates EJ Corey, Harold Varmus and Andrew Fire. Rick holds a B.A. in biochemistry from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in genetics from The Johns Hopkins University.