Professor Dion Morton MBChB, FRCS (Eng), MD

Professor Dion Morton

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Barling Professor of Surgery
Head of Academic Department of Surgery

Contact details

+44 (0)121 627 2276
+44 (0)121 472 1230
Secondary Email
Academic Department of Surgery
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
University of Birmingham office
Heritage Building (Queen Elizabeth Hospital)
Room 29, 4th Floor
Mindelsohn Way, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TH

Dion received his degree in Medicine from Bristol University in 1985. He was given an honorary consultant appointment at the University Hospital Birmingham in 1996, and was appointed Professor of Surgery in 2006. 

He is Director of the Birmingham Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre, Director of Clinical Research at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Deputy Head (Clinical) at the the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences.  He is also Research Committee Chair at the European Society of Coloproctology and President of the Society for Academic and Research Surgery.

His research interests are predominantly in clinical and translational research in colorectal cancer, but also encompassing the development of clinical trials in surgery. 

"UK implements national programme for surgical trials" - read Professor Morton's interview in The Lancet.


MBChB 1985, Bristol
FRCS (Eng), 1989, Bristol
MD, 1994, Bristol


Dion undertakes two fixed undergraduate (clinical) teaching sessions per week and instructs students during his outpatient, endoscopy, and theatre sessions. He give lectures to both the dental and medical students, as well as providing small group teaching sessions and revision courses in surgery. Dion also runs an annual course on Colorectal Cancer Prevention at the University of Birmingham.

Postgraduate supervision

Mike Walker

The influence of parathyroid hormone on the gene expression in the colorectal epithelium

PhD (Birmingham) 2012

Katherina McEvoy

The role of desmosomal cadherins in colorectal tumourigenesis

MD (Birmingham) 2012

Kai Leong

Exploring novel epigenetic predictive markers in early rectal cancer.

PhD (Birmingham) 2013

Karina Rønlund

Identification of molecular targets for a non-invasive methylation based test for pre-symptomatic diagnosis of colorectal neoplasia

PhD (Denmark\Birmingham) 2013


Early Diagnosis and prevention of Colorectal Cancer

1. The Department of Surgery was selected as one of 13 centres nationally to undertake a multicentre trial of flexible sigmoidoscopy (local PI – Morton), and was completed in April 1999 (MRC/NHS). This study, published in 2010, has resulted in the sigmoidoscopy screening initiative launched by the NHS in spring 2011.

2. The Department was the National centre (PI Morton) for the APPROVe trial of COX2 inhibitors in colorectal adenoma prevention. The trial demonstrated the cardiotoxicity associated with targeted COX2 inhibitors, precluding their use in low-risk patients and the trial was terminated 6 months early in October 2004. This study was used to develop a unique bank of frozen tumour samples, which have been available for molecular studies on early colorectal tumourigenesis (Merck Sharpe and Dohme, MSD).

3. Awarded an HTA grant (June 2003 – co-applicant: joint with St Mark’s Hospital) to evaluate the use of CT Colonography in a multicentre RCT, the SIGGAR1 Trial. The results have been submitted to the Lancet.

Advanced Cancer and Surgical Trials

As the National NCRI lead for colorectal cancer surgical trials, I have responsibility for all multicentre colorectal cancer surgical trials supported by the NCRI in the UK.

1. FOxTROT. I am the CI for this international study of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for locally advanced colon cancer which is randomising 1050 patients over the next two years (CTAAC).

2. I am a co-applicant and co-investigator for the following national multicentre RCTs; CReST, investigating the role of endoluminal stenting for obstructing CRC. TREC, investigating the role of organ preserving surgery for early rectal cancer. ARISTOTLE, investigating chemoradiotherapy in advanced rectal cancer.

3. I lead a regional collaborative with the surgical trainees (WMRC). This has established three multi-centre randomised clinical trials. One is in set up (ROCCS), one is open to recruitment (DREAMs) and one should complete recruitment this year (ROSSINi). ROSSINi has been funded by the NIHR and DREAMs by the BDRF.

Translational Research

Tumour Suppressor Genes on the Short arm of Chromosome 8

1. Interstitial deletion studies in prostate and colorectal cancer from the Department of Surgery have been completed and published (Int J Cancer 1996, Oncogene 1999). This demonstrated two novel localised tumour suppressor gene (TSG) regions. A collaborative study with the University Department of Cancer Studies and the School of Biology to map the 8p11.2 region (MRC fellowship) has been completed and a candidate tumour suppressor gene identified (Caldwell et al 2004). This work was funded by CRUK.

2. A Regional fellowship (New Blood) was awarded (2001) to support work on a functional polymorphism in the tumour suppressor gene we have identified. We have undertaken in situ hybridisation studies of the 8p12 region to further define the second TSG locus (Royal College of Surgeons fellowship).

Alterations in Cell Adhesion and Signalling in Early Colorectal Tumourigenesis

1. A collaborative project with the Department of Medicine was established to investigate alterations in cell adhesion and the relationship with intracellular signalling through the APC/ß catenin complex. A Wellcome fellowship was awarded to support this work.

2. A second study of the frizzled receptor protein has been completed, which has identified a redirection of the wnt growth factor signal. This may be implicated in early tumour progression. This project was supported by two project grants from Cancer Research UK.

3. Biomarker studies. There are currently two post doctoral fellows working in the group on biomarker studies. One project is investigating novel diagnostic and predictive markers for colorectal cancer risk in patients with chronic colitis (UHB Charities). The second is investigating colorectal cancer screening using stool extracted DNA (Cancer Research UK).

Research Networks

I have initiated setting up of a research group for Surgical Trainees in the West Midlands (West Midlands Research Collaborative, WMRC); they are now fully functioning and have two prospective RCTs open for recruitment.

The network has its own management team. The collaborative meets monthly to discuss new initiatives, ongoing projects and for talks from invited speakers. They present regularly at national meetings and to other groups wishing to join the collaborative. They hold an annual research day which is attended by over 100 registrars from the West Midlands region and around the UK.

1. ROSSINI – Reduction of Surgical Site Infection using a Novel Intervention; this NIHR RfPB funded trial commenced recruitment at UHB in January, and is open in 20 sites across the country.

2. DREAMs – Dexamethasone Reduces Emesis After Major Gastrointestinal Surgery. This has been funded by the BDRF and is opening its first centres in July 2011.

A third RCT (ROCCS) has been funded and will open for a pilot phase in September 2011. The collaborative are also running three multicentre cohort studies looking at claustridium Difficile infection (CHARMs), Ethnicity and Breast cancer (CANOEs) and F1 competancies (SWIFT).

Other activities


1. Bowel Disease Research Foundation Trustee, Jul 2010 – Present
2. Bowel Cancer UK Medical Advisory Board member, Sep 2010 – Present
3. Bobby Moore Foundation Advisor, 2008 - Present


1. Higher Surgical Training Committee, West Midlands, Jan 1994 - 2009
2. Chairman ‘Confidential Interactive Multidisciplinary Audit of Colorectal Cancer (CIMACC), Greater Birmingham, Apr 1996 - Aug 2001
3. Cancer Research Task Group, University Hospital Trust Jan 1997 - Dec 1997
4. Laboratory Services Task Group, University Hospital Trust, Sep 1996 - Apr 1997
5. Lead Surgeon, Research and Development, University Hospital Trust, Sep 1996 – 2001
6. Clinical service lead, coloproctology, UHB Apr 2007–Apr 2010


1. National Expert Advisory Committee on Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer Management Mar 2000
2. Member Expert workshop (Macmillan/DoH) 2001 A Model for Genetics Services for Cancer
3. Member of the redrafting committee Jan 2003 – Jul 2004 Improving outcomes in CRC
4. DMEC member PICCOLO trial Jan 2007 – Jan 2011
5. TMG member, ISAAC, CReST, TREC, 2008 - Present FOxTROT (Chair) ROSSINI Trials
6. TSC Member – UCL Lung and Gynae Trials 2009 – present
7. TSC Member – ICR-CTSU Breast Systemic Therapies 2009 – present
8. DMEC Member SEAFOod Trial Oct 10 – present
9. External Review Panel Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust Nov 2010


The Association of Coloproctology (Great Britain and Ireland)
The Society of Academic & Research Surgeons
The European Society of Coloproctology
West Midlands Surgical Society
British Society of Human Genetics
The European Surgical Association


1. Walker M, O'Sullivan B, Perakath B, Taniere P, Cruger D, Morton D. Selecting patients with young-onset colorectal cancer for mismatch repair gene analysis. Br J Surg. 2007 Dec;94(12):1567-71.

2. K. Y. Khan, T. Xiong, I. McCafferty, P. Riley, P. Guest, S. Radley, T. Ismail, R. Lilford, DG. Morton. CT Colonography: The Impact and Frequency of Extracolonic Findings in a Symptomatic Population. Br J Surg 2007 Mar;94(3):355-61

3. Caldwell GM, Jones CE, Soon Y, Warrack R, Morton DG, Matthews GM. Reorganisation of the Wnt response pathway in colorectal carcinogenesis. Br J Cancer, 2008 Apr 22;98(8): 1437-42

4. Baron JA, Sandler RS, Bresalier RS, Lanas A, Morton DG, Riddell R, Iverson ER, Demets DL. Cardiovascular events associated with rofecoxib: final analysis of the APPROVe trial. Lancet. 2008 Nov 15;372(9651):1756-64.

5. Von Wagner C, Knight K, Halligan S, Atkin W, Lilford R, Morton D, Wardle J. Patient experiences of colonoscopy, barium enema and CT colonography: a qualitative study. Br J Radiol. 2009 Jan;82(973):13-9.]

6. UK Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Trial Investigators: Once-only flexible sigmoidoscopy screening in prevention of colorectal cancer: a multicentre randomised controlled trial. Lancet.2010 May 8;375(9726):1624-33.Epub 2010 Apr 27.

7. Caldwell G, Jones CE, Ashley AM, Wei W, Hedmadi RK, Morton DG, Matthews G. Wnt signalling in adenomas of FAP patients. Br J Cancer 2010 Sep 103, 910–917

8. Chughtai S, Crundwell M, Cruickshank N, Knowles M, Luscombe M, Neoptolemos J, Morton D. Three regions of interstitial deletion on chromosome 8 in colorectal cancers. Br J Surg 1996;83:1624.

9. Lanas A, Baron JA, Sandler RS, Horgan K, Bolognese J, Oxenius B, Quan H, Watson D, Cook TJ, Schoen R, Burke C, Loftus S, Niv Y, Ridell R, Morton D, Bresalier R. Peptic ulcer and bleeding events associated with rofecoxib in a 3-year colorectal adenoma chemoprevention trial. Gastroenterology. 2007 Feb;132(2):490-7.