University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Morton J. Cowan, MD

Morton J. Cowan, MD

Professor, Department of Pediatrics, UCSF

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Affiliate Member

Research Summary

Current Non-NIH Awards:

TR3-05535 Cowan (PI) 11/01/2012-10/31/2015

California Institute of Regenerative Medicine vGene Correction of Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cells in Artemis Deficient SCID

Goal is to complete the preclinical testing necessary for a clinical gene therapy trial in children with Artemis-SCID. The focus is on optimizing non-chemotherapy approaches to opening marrow niches, studying potential genotoxicity, and demonstrating that gene transduced Artemis deficient hematopoietic stem cells mature in vitro and in vivo into T and B cells.

Role: PI

DR2A-05365 Shizuru (PI) 07/01/2013-06/30/2017

California Institute of Regenerative Medicine vA monoclonal antibody that depletes blood stem cells and enables chemotherapy free transplants

Goal is to bring to a clinical trial a monoclonal antibody that targets hematopoietic stem cells. The antibody will be evaluated in a non-human primate model followed by a prospective phase I/II clinical trial in children with SCID.

Role: Co-PI


I am a pediatric immunologist, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief, Allergy Immunology and BMT Division at UCSF. I led the planning for what ultimately became the Primary Immune Deficiency Treatment Consortium (PIDTC), an NIH-funded group of 43 centers in the US and Canada focused on PID in which I am the PI and UCSF is the lead institution since 2009. I am on the Steering and Executive Committees of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium (PBMTC) and established and led for three years the Pediatric Special Interest Group within the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. My career has focused on children with PID, with over 180 peer-reviewed publications. My major research interests include SCID in Athabascan-speaking Native Americans (SCIDA), gene therapy for children with Artemis-deficient SCID, non-chemotherapy approaches to opening marrow niches, and the use of haploidentical donors and reduced-toxicity transplantation for childhood diseases. I performed one of the initial haplocompatible T cell depleted marrow transplants for SCID in North America in 1982 and reported one of the first in utero transplants in the world, the first patient with multiple biotin-dependent carboxylase deficiencies and immune deficiency, and the first children with HIV infection. I have treated the largest cohort of children with SCIDA and the largest number of babies diagnosed through newborn screening with SCID in North America, mapped the genetic locus of the gene for SCIDA and radiation sensitive SCID (RS-SCID), and identified the mutation in DCLRE1C responsible for SCIDA in Navajo and Apache children. I designed and completed one of the few prospective single institution trials of haplocompatible HCT for children with SCID and initiated and completed the first large study of children with SCID transplanted in North America and reported by the PIDTC.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, B.S., 1966, Electrical Engineering
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, M.D., 1970, Medicine
University of California, San Francisco, Intern/Resident, 1975-77, Pediatrics
University of California, San Francisco, Fellow, 1977-79, Immunology

Professional Experience

  • 1972-74
    Scientist, Division of Lung Diseases, National Heart and Lung Institute, Bethesda, MD
  • 1974-75
    Staff Investigator, Pulmonary Biochemistry Branch, National Heart and Lung Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD
  • 1979-83
    Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco
  • 1984-89
    Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program, University of California, San Francisco
  • 1989-present
    Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Bone Marrow Transplant Program, UCSF

Honors & Awards

  • 1966
    Tau Beta Pi, Engineer Honor Society
  • 1968-70
    Charles Hovies Scholarship
  • 1979-82
    Pediatric Clinical Research Center Investigator Award

Selected Publications

  1. Heimall J, Cowan MJ. Long term outcomes of severe combined immunodeficiency: therapy implications. Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2017 Sep 23; 1-12.
    View on PubMed
  2. Cowan MJ, Dvorak CC, Long-Boyle J. Opening Marrow Niches in Patients Undergoing Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Therapy. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2017 Oct; 31(5):809-822.
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  3. Dobbs K, Tabellini G, Calzoni E, Patrizi O, Martinez P, Giliani SC, Moratto D, Al-Herz W, Cancrini C, Cowan M, Bleesing J, Booth C, Buchbinder D, Burns SO, Chatila TA, Chou J, Daza-Cajigal V, Ott de Bruin LM, de la Morena M, Di Matteo G, Finocchi A, Geha R, Goyal RK, Hayward A, Holland S, Huang CH, Kanariou MG, King A, Kaplan B, Kleva A, Kuijpers TW, Lee BW, Lougaris V, Massaad M, Meyts I, Morsheimer M, Neven B, Pai SY, Plebani A, Prockop S, Reisli I, Soh JY, Somech R, Torgerson TR, Kim YJ, Walter JE, Gennery AR, Keles S, Manis JP, Marcenaro E, Moretta A, Parolini S, Notarangelo LD. Natural Killer Cells from Patients with Recombinase-Activating Gene and Non-Homologous End Joining Gene Defects Comprise a Higher Frequency of CD56bright NKG2A+++ Cells, and Yet Display Increased Degranulation and Higher Perforin Content. Front Immunol. 2017; 8:798.
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  4. Ivaturi V, Dvorak CC, Chan D, Liu T, Cowan MJ, Wahlstrom J, Stricherz M, Jennissen C, Orchard PJ, Tolar J, Pai SY, Huang L, Aweeka F, Long-Boyle J. Pharmacokinetics and Model-Based Dosing to Optimize Fludarabine Therapy in Pediatric Hematopoietic Cell Transplant Recipients. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2017 Oct; 23(10):1701-1713.
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  5. Dvorak CC, Patel K, Puck JM, Wahlstrom J, Dorsey MJ, Adams R, Facchino J, Cowan MJ. Unconditioned unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation for IL7Ra- and Artemis-deficient SCID. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2017 Jul; 52(7):1036-1038.
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  6. Slack J, Albert MH, Balashov D, Belohradsky BH, Bertaina A, Bleesing J, Booth C, Buechner J, Buckley RH, Ouachée-Chardin M, Deripapa E, Drabko K, Eapen M, Feuchtinger T, Finocchi A, Gaspar HB, Ghosh S, Gillio A, Gonzalez-Granado LI, Grunebaum E, Güngör T, Heilmann C, Helminen M, Higuchi K, Imai K, Kalwak K, Kanazawa N, Karasu G, Kucuk ZY, Laberko A, Lange A, Mahlaoui N, Meisel R, Moshous D, Muramatsu H, Parikh S, Pasic S, Schmid I, Schuetz C, Schulz A, Schultz KR, Shaw PJ, Slatter MA, Sykora KW, Tamura S, Taskinen M, Wawer A, Wolska-Kus Nierz B, Cowan MJ, Fischer A, Gennery AR. Outcome of hematopoietic cell transplantation for DNA double-strand break repair disorders. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Apr 07.
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  7. Hoenig M, Lagresle-Peyrou C, Pannicke U, Notarangelo LD, Porta F, Gennery AR, Slatter M, Cowan MJ, Stepensky P, Al-Mousa H, Al-Zahrani D, Pai SY, Al Herz W, Gaspar HB, Veys P, Oshima K, Imai K, Yabe H, Noroski LM, Wulffraat NM, Sykora KW, Soler-Palacin P, Muramatsu H, Al Hilali M, Moshous D, Debatin KM, Schuetz C, Jacobsen EM, Schulz AS, Schwarz K, Fischer A, Friedrich W, Cavazzana M. Reticular dysgenesis: international survey on clinical presentation, transplantation, and outcome. Blood. 2017 May 25; 129(21):2928-2938.
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  8. Dorsey MJ, Dvorak CC, Cowan MJ, Puck JM. Treatment of infants identified as having severe combined immunodeficiency by means of newborn screening. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Mar; 139(3):733-742.
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  9. Punwani D, Zhang Y, Yu J, Cowan MJ, Rana S, Kwan A, Adhikari AN, Lizama CO, Mendelsohn BA, Fahl SP, Chellappan A, Srinivasan R, Brenner SE, Wiest DL, Puck JM. Multisystem Anomalies in Severe Combined Immunodeficiency with Mutant BCL11B. N Engl J Med. 2016 12 01; 375(22):2165-2176.
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  10. Walter JE, Rosen LB, Csomos K, Rosenberg JM, Mathew D, Keszei M, Ujhazi B, Chen K, Lee YN, Tirosh I, Dobbs K, Al-Herz W, Cowan MJ, Puck J, Bleesing JJ, Grimley MS, Malech H, De Ravin SS, Gennery AR, Abraham RS, Joshi AY, Boyce TG, Butte MJ, Nadeau KC, Balboni I, Sullivan KE, Akhter J, Adeli M, El-Feky RA, El-Ghoneimy DH, Dbaibo G, Wakim R, Azzari C, Palma P, Cancrini C, Capuder K, Condino-Neto A, Costa-Carvalho BT, Oliveira JB, Roifman C, Buchbinder D, Kumanovics A, Franco JL, Niehues T, Schuetz C, Kuijpers T, Yee C, Chou J, Masaad MJ, Geha R, Uzel G, Gelman R, Holland SM, Recher M, Utz PJ, Browne SK, Notarangelo LD. Broad-spectrum antibodies against self-antigens and cytokines in RAG deficiency. J Clin Invest. 2016 Nov 01; 126(11):4389.
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  11. Cowan MJ, Kiem HP. Devouring the Hematopoietic Stem Cell: Setting the Table for Marrow Cell Transplantation. Mol Ther. 2016 Nov; 24(11):1892-1894.
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  12. Bartelink IH, Lalmohamed A, van Reij EM, Dvorak CC, Savic RM, Zwaveling J, Bredius RG, Egberts AC, Bierings M, Kletzel M, Shaw PJ, Nath CE, Hempel G, Ansari M, Krajinovic M, Théorêt Y, Duval M, Keizer RJ, Bittencourt H, Hassan M, Güngör T, Wynn RF, Veys P, Cuvelier GD, Marktel S, Chiesa R, Cowan MJ, Slatter MA, Stricherz MK, Jennissen C, Long-Boyle JR, Boelens JJ. Association of busulfan exposure with survival and toxicity after haemopoietic cell transplantation in children and young adults: a multicentre, retrospective cohort analysis. Lancet Haematol. 2016 Nov; 3(11):e526-e536.
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  13. Dietz AC, Duncan CN, Alter BP, Bresters D, Cowan MJ, Notarangelo L, Rosenberg PS, Shenoy S, Skinner R, Walters MC, Wagner J, Baker KS, Pulsipher MA. The Second Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium International Consensus Conference on Late Effects after Pediatric Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Defining the Unique Late Effects of Children Undergoing Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Immune Deficiencies, Inherited Marrow Failure Disorders, and Hemoglobinopathies. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2017 Jan; 23(1):24-29.
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  14. Punwani D, Kawahara M, Yu J, Sanford U, Roy S, Patel K, Carbonaro DA, Karlen AD, Khan S, Cornetta K, Rothe M, Schambach A, Kohn DB, Malech HL, McIvor RS, Puck JM, Cowan MJ. Lentivirus Mediated Correction of Artemis-Deficient Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. Hum Gene Ther. 2017 Jan; 28(1):112-124.
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  15. John T, Walter JE, Schuetz C, Chen K, Abraham RS, Bonfim C, Boyce TG, Joshi AY, Kang E, Carvalho BT, Mahajerin A, Nugent D, Puthenveetil G, Soni A, Su H, Cowan MJ, Notarangelo L, Buchbinder D. Unrelated Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation in a Patient with Combined Immunodeficiency with Granulomatous Disease and Autoimmunity Secondary to RAG Deficiency. J Clin Immunol. 2016 Oct; 36(7):725-32.
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  16. Cowan MJ. The Primary Immune Deficiency Treatment Consortium: how can it improve definitive therapy for PID? Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2016 Oct; 12(10):1007-9.
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  17. Geerlinks AV, Issekutz T, Wahlstrom JT, Sullivan KE, Cowan MJ, Dvorak CC, Fernandez CV. Severe, persistent, and fatal T-cell immunodeficiency following therapy for infantile leukemia. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2016 Nov; 63(11):2046-9.
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  18. Wahlstrom J, Patel K, Eckhert E, Kong D, Horn B, Cowan MJ, Dvorak CC. Transplacental maternal engraftment and posttransplantation graft-versus-host disease in children with severe combined immunodeficiency. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Feb; 139(2):628-633.e10.
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  19. Horn B, O'Kane S, Wattier RL, Wahlstrom JT, Melton A, Cowan MJ, Dvorak CC. Risk of serious bloodstream infections is low in pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients with fevers due to antithymocyte globulins and alemtuzumab. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2016 Nov; 51(11):1510-1512.
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  20. Griffith LM, Cowan MJ, Notarangelo LD, Kohn DB, Puck JM, Shearer WT, Burroughs LM, Torgerson TR, Decaluwe H, Haddad E. Primary Immune Deficiency Treatment Consortium (PIDTC) update. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Aug; 138(2):375-85.
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