Staff Profile: Patrick J. Morris

Patrick J. Morris
Patrick J. Morris, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Division of Preclinical Innovation
Chemical Genomics Branch

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

National Institutes of Health

Email Patrick J. Morris


Patrick (Pat) Morris is a staff scientist in the Chemistry Technology program within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation, where he focuses on synthesizing and optimizing novel small molecules to obtain superior pharmacological properties from both an activity and a pharmacokinetic standpoint. These optimized molecules then can be used to investigate the mechanisms of disease and potentially help treat various diseases. Since joining NCATS in 2014, Morris has played a key role in multiple projects, including the development of ketamine metabolites as potential therapeutics. This work included assisting in the progression of (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine to clinical trials for treatment-resistant depression.

Prior to joining NCATS, Morris worked briefly as a contractor at Emerald Therapeutics, where he set up chemical synthesis operations.

Morris obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2003 from Boston College, after which he worked as a medicinal chemist at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research until 2005. He went on to obtain his doctorate in chemistry from Stanford University under the mentorship of Barry M. Trost, Ph.D. He completed his postdoctoral work under the mentorship of Daniel K. Nomura, Ph.D., at the University of California, Berkeley in the field of chemical biology and proteomics. Morris currently is an author or inventor on more than 25 peer-reviewed publications or patents.

Research Topics

Morris enjoys using synthetic organic chemistry to develop and assess the activity of small molecules in disease models, especially in the context of complex chiral systems. He also is broadly interested in developing small molecules and therapeutics to treat psychiatric and neurological diseases, as well as investigating the mechanisms of these therapeutics.

Selected Publications

  1. NMDAR Inhibition-Independent Antidepressant Actions of Ketamine Metabolites
  2. Synthesis and N-Methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) Receptor Activity of Ketamine Metabolites
  3. A Comparison of the Pharmacokinetics and NMDAR Antagonism-Associated Neurotoxicity of Ketamine, (2R,6R)-Hydroxynorketamine and MK-801