About the Researchers

John A. Zaia, M.D., Chair, Center for Gene Therapy 

For 35 years, renowned genetic researcher John Zaia, M.D. has been a critical part of the DNA at City of Hope.

The Harvard-trained Zaia was an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a clinical associate at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston before joining City of Hope in 1980. He served as City of Hope's director of Virology and Infectious Diseases within the Department of Pediatrics until 1999 when he assumed overall leadership of our Virology department.

Now, as director of the new Center for Gene Therapy, Dr. Zaia aims to take the promise of gene and stem cell therapy to the next level, finding new ways to defeat cancer, AIDS and other diseases.

Dr. Zaia also directs our Alpha Clinic for Cell Therapy and Innovation, funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The Clinic is dedicated to bringing novel therapies to patients as rapidly as possible.

The holder of a dozen patents and author of over 180 papers, Dr. Zaia is called a “visionary and a teacher” by his peers. His goal: “Not only to provide research to benefit patients in the future, but get these innovative treatments running in real-life clinics to benefit patients now.”

Kevin V. Morris, Ph.D., Associate Chair, Center for Gene Therapy

“I really am stoked on learning about the basic fabric of our existence....the complexity is mind-boggling.”

For more than a decade, Kevin Morris, Ph.D. has been one of the brightest lights in RNA research.

Morris was the first to recognize unique properties of non-coding RNA; he is considered an international leader in the field.

The goal of his work, in his words, is “to understand the role of non-coding RNA in life, evolution and selection.” and to use that knowledge to develop novel therapies for AIDS, cancer and other diseases.

At the Center for Gene Therapy, Morris will focus on manipulating RNA in a variety of ways to control and repress HIV-1.

Morris has led research laboratories at the renowned Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California as well as the University of New South Wales, Australia. His relationship with City of Hope began in 2004 with researcher and adjunct professor positions at our Beckman Research Institute.

Learn more about his research.


Angelo A. Cardoso, M.D., Ph.D., Research Professor

Angelo Cardoso, M.D., Ph.D. brings two decades of international, groundbreaking leukemia research to his new role at the Center for Gene Therapy.

Dr. Cardoso was educated in Portugal, where he received his medical degree. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Paris, after completing doctoral research work in France, Portugal, and here in the U.S. at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He spent a decade at Harvard/Dana-Farber as an Instructor of Medicine, then taught medicine and molecular genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Dr. Cardoso focuses on the genetic mechanism of leukemia, especially acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children.

At the Center for Gene Therapy, Dr. Cardoso will examine, in his words, “molecular crosstalk between leukemia cells and the bone marrow microenvironment,” as the disease progresses. One of his goals will be to develop “selective inhibitors for high-risk and refractory, relapsed pediatric ALL.”