Dr Mhairi Morris

BSc (Hons), PGCertHE, SFHEA, PhD

Pronouns: She/her
  • Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry

Mhairi (“Vari”) Morris graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Medical Biochemistry in 2004, then took up a PhD scholarship with Professor Lawrence Young at the University of Birmingham, investigating the role of the viral oncoprotein, latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), in modulating epithelial cell invasion and metastasis. On completion of her PhD in 2008, Mhairi continued her LMP1 research at Birmingham.

Following a brief career break from 2010-2013, Mhairi returned to academia as a Lecturer at De Montfort University, Leicester, where she attained her Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCertHE) with distinction. Mhairi was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2014, and awarded DMU Teacher Fellow status in 2016, prior to joining Loughborough University in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences in February 2017.

Mhairi previously held an Eric Reid Methodology Award from The Biochemical Society, and currently sits on the editorial board for the Pathogens and Frontiers in Physiology journals.

Her current research interests include understanding the interactions between cancer cells and stromal cells in the tumour microenvironment, and how exercise may impinge on these interactions. In particular, Mhairi has an interest in using a novel 3D model system developed by her recently qualified PhD student for investigating the interactions between mesenchymal stem cells and 3D tumour spheroids.

Mhairi’s current research interests span three broad areas:

  • The role of the viral oncoprotein in transforming cells in the tumour microenvironment and the development of a novel 3D system for investigating this phenomenon (collaboration with Dr Alexandra Davis, Lecturer at De Montfort University);
  • The role of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in contributing to cancer cell invasion, and the impact exercise may play in reducing metastasis (recently qualified PhD student Marie-Juliet Brown, Loughborough University);
  • Analysing the impact of exercise interventions in cancer progression using systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Prospective self-funded PhD students may contact Mhairi to enquire about studying topics aligned with any of these three broad areas.

Trying to outrun cancer: the benefits of exercise across the cancer continuum

In this presentation for the NCSEM, Dr Mhairi Morris talks about the importance of exercise throughout the cancer continuum, from prevention to reducing secondary risk, as well as the benefits of exercise as prehab for treatment.

  • Editorial Board Member of Pathogens Journal
  • Editorial Board Member of Frontiers in Physiology Journal
  • Invited Reviewer for Cancers, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Microorganisms, and Cells journals

Featured publications

  • Brown, MJ, Morris, MA, Akam, EC (2023) Investigating the Effects of Indirect Coculture of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on the Migration of Breast Cancer Cells: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research, 17, DOI: 10.1177/11782234221145385.
  • Mok, J, Brown, M-J, Akam, L, Morris, M (2022) The lasting effects of resistance and endurance exercise interventions on breast cancer patient mental wellbeing and physical fitness, Scientific Reports, 12, 3504, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-07446-3.
  • Davis, AM, Rapley, A, Dawson, CW, Young, LS, Morris, M (2021) The EBV-Encoded Oncoprotein, LMP1, Recruits and Transforms Fibroblasts via an ERK-MAPK-Dependent Mechanism, Pathogens, 10(8), pp.982-982, DOI: 10.3390/pathogens10080982.
  • Brown, M-J, Morris, M, Akam, L (2020) An exploration of the role of exercise in modulating breast cancer progression in vitro: a systematic review and meta-analysis, American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, 320(3), ISSN: 0363-6143. DOI: 10.1152/ajpcell.00461.2020.
  • Morris, M, Crank, H, Loosemore, M, Stevinson, C (2020) Identification of Research Priorities in Exercise Oncology: A Consensus Study, Journal of Cancer, 11(9), pp.2702-2707, ISSN: 1837-9664. DOI: 10.7150/jca.42992.
  • Morris, M (2019) Cancer-associated fibroblasts in undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma: a putative role for the EBV-encoded oncoprotein, LMP1, Pathogens, 9(1), 8, ISSN: 2076-0817. DOI: 10.3390/pathogens9010008.
  • Brown, M, Bahsoun, S, Morris, M, Akam, L (2019) Determining conditions for successful culture of multi-cellular 3D tumour spheroids to investigate the effect of mesenchymal stem cells on breast cancer cell invasiveness, Bioengineering, 6(4), 101, ISSN: 2306-5354. DOI: 10.3390/bioengineering6040101.
  • Morris MA, Laverick L, Wei W, Davis AM, O’Neill S, Wood L, Wright J, Dawson CW, Young LS. The EBV-Encoded Oncoprotein, LMP1, Induces an Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) via Its CTAR1 Domain through Integrin-Mediated ERK-MAPK Signalling. Cancers, 2018, 10(5), 130. DOI: 10.3390/cancers10050130. DOI: 10.3390/cancers10050130.
  • Morris MA. Somewhere in between: blogging as an intermediate and accessible space. JWCP. ISSN: 1753-5190. DOI: 10.1386/jwcp.11.1.67_1.
  • Morris MA. Epstein-Barr Virus. eLS, 2017 Jun. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902
  • Rasekh M, Nazari K, Arshad MS, Kucuk I, Haj-Ahmad R, Hussain A, Morris MA, Abbas N, Chang MW, Li X, Ahmad Z. Polymeric based therapeutic delivery systems prepared using electrohydrodynamic processes. Curr Pharm Des, 2016 Feb. PMID: 26898734. DOI: 10.2174/1381612822666160217141612.
  • Morris MA, Dawson CW, Laverick L, Davis AM, Dudman JPR, Raveenthiraraj S, Ahmad Z, Yap LF, and Young LS. The Epstein-Barr virus-encoded LMP1 oncoprotein modulates cell adhesion via regulation of activin A/TGFb and b1 integrin signalling. Sci Rep, 2016 Jan. PMID: 26782058. DOI: 10.1038/srep19533.
  • Rasekh M, Karavasili C, Soong Y, Bouroplouos N, Morris MA, Armitage D, Li X, Fatouros DG, Ahmad Z. Electrospun PVP-indomethacin constituents for transdermal dressings and drug delivery devices. Int J Pharma, 2014 Jul. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2014.06.059.
  • Morris MA, Dawson CW, Young LS. Role of the Epstein-Barr virus-encoded latent membrane protein-1, LMP1, in the pathogenesis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. (Review) Future Oncol, 2009 Aug. DOI: 10.2217/fon.09.53.
  • Morris MA, Dawson CW, Wei W, O’Neil JD, Stewart SE, Jia J, Bell AI, Young LS, Arrand JR. Epstein-Barr virus-encoded LMP1 induces a hyperproliferative and inflammatory gene expression programme in cultured keratinocytes. J Gen Virol, 2008 Nov. DOI: 10.1099/vir.0.2008/003970-0.
  • Morris MA, Young LS, Dawson CW. DNA tumour viruses promote tumour cell invasion and metastasis by deregulating the normal processes of cell adhesion and motility. (Review) Eur J Cell Biol, 2008 Sep. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2008.03.005.
  • Dawson CW, Laverick L, Morris MA, Tramoutanis G, Young LS. Epstein-Barr virus-encoded LMP1 regulates epithelial cell motility and invasion via the ERK-MAPK pathway. J Virol 2008 Jan. DOI: 10.1128/jvi.01888-07.