NIA Mourns Morrison-Bogorad

Photo of Dr. Morrison-Bogorad

Dr. Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad

Dr. Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, who was director of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience for 14 years, died in September in Costa Rica, where she retired from NIA in 2010 to enjoy “la pura vida.”

During her 14-year tenure at NIA, Morrison-Bogorad was known best for her forward thinking and her ability to build programs by identifying priorities for scientific initiatives, recruiting the right talent and leveraging partnerships. As a leader, Morrison-Bogorad was credited with implementing an array of innovative initiatives in Alzheimer’s research, such as critical expansions in genetic, epidemiological and translational research, and the groundbreaking Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

Morrison-Bogorad led the Division of Neuroscience when the field of aging was just beginning to make advances in the understanding of Alzheimer’s initiation and progression. As a scientist committed to unraveling the underpinnings of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, she was passionate about developing drugs with the potential for halting its progression, knowing that postponing the diagnosis by several years could enable older adults to live longer with comfort and independence.

“Marcelle was insightful and creative in her focus on aging brain research, setting up programs and partnerships that evolved successfully over the years to accelerate progress in this field,” said NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes. “She understood that advancing the science of aging and dementia required the collaboration and cooperation of researchers representing many disciplines. The breadth and depth of science in progress today for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are a testament to the infrastructure she pioneered and established.”

“She was an excellent scientist and a true leader, and we will miss her very much,” said Dr. Nina Silverberg, who was recruited by Morrison-Bogorad in 2005 and now directs the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers Program for NIA. “I have heard many wonderful stories over the years from grantees who appreciated her sage advice on a very wide range of topics.”

Before her tenure at NIA, which began in 1997, Morrison-Bogorad was a researcher and professor in the department of neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Her research there focused on the molecular analysis of brain development, Alzheimer’s disease and aging. In the 1970s, she was one of the first researchers to isolate and study the properties of eukaryotic messenger RNAs.

When Morrison-Bogorad joined NIA as a director, she continued to conduct research by setting up a small lab at NIA. In addition to neuroscience, her other passions included hiking, reading murder mystery books and her cherished dogs.

A native of Scotland, she received an honors degree in biochemistry from the University of Aberdeen and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Glasgow. She is survived by her sisters Isobel and Margaret, along with many friends and colleagues who remember her legacy. Her husband Alexander Bogorad died in 2017.