July 18, 2008

Friends, colleagues remember Morrow

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Jason Morrow, M.D.

Friends, colleagues remember Morrow

Jason Morrow, M.D., chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology in Vanderbilt Medical Center's Department of Medicine, was remembered last week as a gifted scientist and generous friend.

Dr. Morrow, 51, died on July 8. Six hundred people attended his funeral on July 11 at Congregation Micah in Brentwood.

“Jason was an inspired and inspiring leader of our scientific endeavors,” said John Oates, M.D., founder of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, who helped launch Morrow's career. “He knew excellence and had an infectious enthusiasm for discovery. We have lost a colleague and leader who held our affection and profound respect.”

“Jason Morrow was an extraordinary scientist, a valued colleague and a wonderful and warm human being,” added Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

Dr. Morrow received his bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and his M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, his hometown. He served his medical internship and residency at Vanderbilt, and was chief medical resident from 1987 to 1988, when he joined the Division of Clinical Pharmacology as a research fellow.

In 1990, he and Jackson Roberts, M.D., discovered a series of compounds called isoprostanes that help researchers reliably detect and monitor free radical damage.

Also called “oxidative stress,” this damage has been implicated in the development of atherosclerosis, age-related macular degeneration and neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Morrow joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1994, and later was named the F. Tremaine Billings Professor of Medicine and professor of Pharmacology. In 2005, he became the fourth chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, which currently has 190 employees and a $33 million annual budget.

Co-author of more than 200 scientific papers, Dr. Morrow also contributed to current understanding of the potential of antioxidant vitamins C and E to protect against heart disease. He was a vigorous advocate for government regulation and oversight of over-the-counter dietary supplements.

Dr. Morrow is survived by his wife, Lisa, their children Jeremy and Stephanie, his mother Vera Morrow, a sister, Leigh Shalloway, and an extended family.

Memories of Jason

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research and interim Dean of Medicine

“We loved Jason because he listened — because he heard every word we said and also what we left unsaid. We knew he cared about us.”

Richard Breyer, Ph.D., professor of Medicine and Pharmacology

“He was the essence of Vanderbilt: first-rate science, very collaborative, and a really nice guy. He had a special talent for bringing people together and getting things to run smoothly. His door was always open, except of course when he was changing to go for his mid-day run.”

Nancy Brown, M.D., professor of Medicine and Pharmacology

“He was a wonderful collaborator because he was generous with his time and his ideas … Jason and I grew up together professionally. He was my chief resident. He was always an advocate and a touchstone.”

Nagesh Chopra, M.D., former chief resident, Clinical Pharmacology

“I will always remember him with great fondness and respect. He was an inspiring chief … very approachable and a true patriarch.”

Donna Georgescu, assistant to the chief of Clinical Pharmacology

“He asked me regularly for my opinion. I think that means, to him, I counted … Jason counted everyone in at Vanderbilt. Secret to his success? Maybe. That and a hundred other things.”

Lee Limbird, Ph.D., former associate vice chancellor for Research

“From his earliest days at Vanderbilt, Jason focused on discovery, not ego; on fostering the efforts of others, not seeking recognition for himself.”

Eric Neilson, M.D., chair, Department of Medicine

“I first met Jason as a rising star in biomedical science when I came to Vanderbilt. One could immediately sense his values as a caring person who inspires others to be more than they thought possible. We have lost a superb leader who did much to advance academic excellence.”

L. Jackson Roberts II, M.D., professor of Pharmacology and Medicine

“Jason was a remarkably talented scientist, a remarkable caring and unselfish person, a remarkable collaborator, and a remarkable administrator who will be dearly missed.”

Dan Roden, M.D., director, Oates Institute for Experimental Therapeutics

“Jason was not only a spectacular translational scientist and role model, but also — more importantly — he always thought about and acted for everyone around him. This was one of his most endearing qualities.”

Amy Shelton, administrative officer, Clinical Pharmacology

“Jason Morrow was not only my boss, but he was one of my dearest friends. Jason taught me so much about caring for people and ultimately how to be a better person myself.”

C. Michael Stein, M.B., Ch.B., associate chief, Clinical Pharmacology

“He always had time to sit down and talk about a problem. He encouraged all the time, and when we were successful he heaped the praises on. If we weren't successful, he was there with … more encouragement.”

Alastair J.J. Wood, M.B., Ch.B., professor of Medicine, Emeritus

“We have all lost a great friend, a great scientist and a wonderful colleague.”