The early surgical training of Peter Morris was at the Hammersmith Hospital in London. There he was exposed to some clinical transplantation in the renal transplant program of James Dempster and Ralph Shackman, but his interest in transplantation remained unstimulated. In 1964, Morris was offered additional surgical training at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) through the efforts of Dr. Claude Welch and in the following year joined the laboratory of Dr. John Burke to study surgical infection and inflammation. At this time the new Chief of Surgery, Paul S. Russell, had initiated an active renal transplant program at the MGH with encouraging results with living related kidney transplants. Russell also established an active transplantation/immunology research laboratory focused on analysis of histocompatibility. Morris’ regular interaction with research fellows in Russell’s laboratory, many of whom were from England, nurtured his early interest in histocompatibility, which in turn led to a shift in his research emphasis from infection and inflammation to transplantation. With the help and intercession of Paul Russell, Morris was introduced to and developed strong interactions with Bernard Amos, Jan van Rood, and Paul Terasaki, the early histocompatibility pioneers.
Prior to his return to the University of Melbourne, Morris spent six months establishing the tissue typing laboratory at the Medical College of Virginia with David Hume, who had established one of the major transplant units in the United States. During this period he established a long-lasting collaborative friendship with Paul Terasaki. Together they demonstrated for the first time in humans using stored sera of Hume’s patients that cytotoxic antibodies were present in the sera of patients after transplantation, particularly if they had rejected a transplanted kidney (2, 3). In addition, with Mel Williams and others, Morris showed that in the presence of recipient cytotoxic antidonor antibodies, immediate rejection of the kidney would occur (4).
In 1967, Peter Morris returned to the University of Melbourne and the Department of Surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to establish the first histocompatibility laboratory in Australia. He was able to show the first correlation between cadaver graft outcome and HLA typing (5). At this time, he was interested in all aspects of HLA, not just its application to transplantation. He studied the possible association of HLA with susceptibility to different diseases, eventually showing a reasonably strong association of HLA with Hodgkin’s disease (6), with chronic active hepatitis (7) and with pancreas islet antibodies in diabetes (8). He also pursued anthropological studies of HLA in various population groups of Southeast Asia, Fiji, and New Guinea, and in Australian aborigines, which demonstrated—among other things—the extraordinary limited polymorphism of the HLA system in certain populations (9).
In 1974, at the tender age of 39, Peter Morris was appointed Nuffield Professor of Surgery and Chairman of the Department at Oxford University. The department flourished under his leadership. He established the Oxford Transplant Center, which introduced a number of clinical trials in transplantation—a relatively rare undertaking in these early days. Among these was the first demonstration in 1978 of the salutary effect of matching for HLA-DR alone in cadaveric renal transplantation (10). In addition, Morris and colleagues showed that many patients can be transplanted in the presence of positive crossmatches when the antibodies involved are not directed against HLA (11, 12). In addition to a vigorous clinical transplantation program, Morris also established a transplantation biology research laboratory in which he nurtured strong collaboration and cooperation with basic scientists. A critical part of the Oxford laboratory effort involved a Ph.D. program in which visiting research fellows—many of whom were clinicians—came to the Oxford transplantation laboratory for postgraduate research training. The Oxford transplantation biology research program has grown steadily to involve multiple areas of basic and translational research in experimental transplantation immunobiology. Over the years, a host of associates, graduate students, and research fellows from all over the world worked in the Oxford laboratory. These colleagues and graduates are the physician- and surgeon-scientists who currently hold leadership positions in transplantation throughout the world and who continue to make major contributions today—a legacy of which Sir Peter should be enormously proud.
Dr. Morris’ bibliography contains in excess of 800 scientific papers and scholarly works. In addition to his studies on HLA and clinical transplantation (Table 1) he has made seminal contributions in experimental studies on: 1) the role of blood transfusions and passive enhancement in experimental renal and islet cell allografts, 2) the migration of dendritic leukocytes from allografts to initiate rejection, 3) use of nondepleting monoclonal anti-CD4 antibodies to modify rejection, 4) analysis and role of T regulatory cells and altered cytokine pathways in tolerance, and 5) induction of tolerance by retroviral transfer of donor major histocompatibility complex antigens into recipient bone marrow cells.
The impact of Sir Peter Morris on the field of transplantation and the respect accorded him by his colleagues are reflected in his awards and achievements. He has been elected to leadership positions of numerous academic and professional societies including as Chairman of the British Transplantation Society (1976–77) and as President of The Transplantation Society (1984–86), the British Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (1993–95), the European Surgical Association (1996–98), the International Surgical Society/Société de Chirurgie (2001–03), and most recently, The Royal College of Surgeons of England (2001–04). He has had the honor to deliver over 40 distinguished lectureships, including the Lister Oration and the Hunterian Oration of the Royal College of Surgeons, England. He has also received numerous awards in the form of prizes, named professorships, honorary fellowships, and honorary degrees including most noteworthy Fellowship in the Royal Society (1994), the Lister Medal (1997), and the Hunterian Medal (2005). In 1996, he received Knighthood for Services to Medicine (Fig. 4). In addition, he has been listed as one of the world’s most cited authors in clinical medicine by the Information Sciences Institute.
Finally, and most importantly, in addition to all these accomplishments Peter Morris is a grand human being—a loving husband, proud father, and devoted grandfather to his family and a cherished friend to his colleagues (Fig. 5). Years ago I stated at one of these congresses that transplantation was fortunate to have so many gifted and dynamic people to lead this young field to future greatness. I likened transplantation to a sky full of shining stars. It is my pleasure to present one of our most shining stars, perhaps the shiniest, Peter Morris, as a 2006 Medawar Prize winner.
1. Morris PJ. Personal Recollections in History of Transplantation. In: Terasaki P. Clinical Transplants. Los Angeles: UCLA Press, 1991.
2. Morris PJ, Hume DM, Terasaki PI. The development of cytotoxic antibodies in renal transplantation. In Curtoni ES, Mattiuz PZ, Tosi RM, eds. Histocompatibility Testing 1967. Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1967.
3. Morris PJ, Williams GM, Hume DM, et al. Serotyping for homotransplantation. XII Occurrence of cytotoxic antibodies following kidney transplantation in man. Transplantation
1968; 6(3): 392.
4. Williams GM, Hume DM, Hudson RP Jr, et al. “Hyperacute” renal-homograft rejection in man. N Engl J Med
1968; 279(12): 611.
5. Morris PJ, Kincaid-Smith P, Ting A, et al. Prospective leucocyte typing in cadaver renal transplantation. Lancet
1968; 2: 803.
6. Forbes JF, Morris PJ. Leucocyte antigens in Hodgkin’s disease. Lancet
1970; 2: 849.
7. McKay IR, Morris PJ. Association of autoimmune active chronic hepatitis with HL-A 1,8. Lancet
1972; 2(7781): 793.
8. Morris, PJ, Irvine WJ, Gray RS, et al. HLA and pancreatic islet cell antibodies in diabetes. Lancet
1976; 2(7987): 652.
9. Morris PJ, Ting A, Alpers MP. Leucocyte antigens in a New Guinea population. Tissue Antigens
1971; 1(1): 49.
10. Ting A, Morris PJ. Matching for B-cell antigens of the HLA-DR (D-related series) in cadaver renal transplantation. Lancet
1978; 1: 575.
11. Morris PJ, Ting A, Daar AS, Oliver D. B cell alloantibodies and renal allografts. Lancet
1976; 2: 312.
© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
12. Ting A, Morris PJ. Renal transplantation and a B cell crossmatch with autoantibodies and alloantibodies. Lancet
1977; 2: 1095.