Donor Report – 2021 Spring

YOU make a difference

At the Morgridge Institute for Research, we explore uncharted biomedical research to go where the science takes us. By asking the right questions and following the highest standards of quality research, we will improve human health.

Brad’s Update

I hope this report brings you a sense of optimism. Yes, optimism!

Let’s first address that we are more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and life is far from normal.

Still, I have high hopes for 2021. The COVID-19 vaccines are proving to be highly effective. Deaths and hospital admissions are declining. Vaccine supply and distribution systems are improving each day. We are turning the tide against the pandemic.

I am also hopeful because scientists here at the Morgridge Institute are working to understand the novel coronavirus and prevent future pandemics.

Brad Schwartz

Brad Schwartz

You make life-saving research possible.

Your generosity as a donor helped Morgridge scientists and researchers quickly join the global effort to stop the pandemic. I hope you enjoy reading about the science and research you’ve supported.

But Morgridge scientists are improving human health in many other ways. We are studying biology to help fight heart disease, cure the neglected tropical illness schistosomiasis, stop the spread of HPV and pancreatic cancer, and develop new tools to help doctors save lives.

That’s why this report includes a story about stem cell pioneer Jamie Thomson. For years, his lab has been working on a transformational project to develop a safe and functional stem cell-based artificial artery. These arteries could be pulled off the shelf and used by vascular surgeons to replace damaged arteries and veins.

You help scientists like Jamie push science forward, especially now when so many aspects of human health are being impacted.

In this report, you can also read about the Discovery Field Trip Program. For more than ten years, the program brought elementary and middle school students and teachers to Madison for a day of exploration. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, we moved the field trips online. Now, more than 28 classrooms across the state of Wisconsin will meet virtually with scientists and researchers.

This newsletter is called “You make a difference” because that is what you do.

Your ongoing support provides tools and resources to quickly to help scientists, while serving students from rural and underrepresented communities.

All of us at the Morgridge Institute believe that society has placed enormous trust in us. It is our duty to search for truth using the highest scientific principles to improve our world.

Thank you for being a part of this scientific community. We truly count on donors like you who make a difference.

I hope you are healthy, happy, and, yes, hopeful as you read this report.

Brad Schwartz, M.D.
CEO, Morgridge Institute for Research

P.S. Your voice matters. If you have any questions about the stories in this report, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

As a donor, you are:

Exploring Science, Fearlessly

Donors like you help scientists pursue fearless science. Thank you for supporting biomedicine that will improve human health. With your support, you’re helping fight disease, understand the depths of biology, unlock ways to stop cancer, HIV, and many more disorders.

Changing Lives

Science is for everyone. You help many free and heavily-discounted science education and outreach programs for underserved children and families. From afterschool programs to the Rural Summer Science Camp, these opportunities bring the wonders and joy of science to all families.


Science moves forward because of YOU. We count on a community of supporters like you to provide financial support that helps scientists improve human health, and spark a curiosity in science for underserved children and families.

Here’s a look at some of last year’s milestones made possible by your support.

Students discover their science identity

The inaugural Summer Science Workshop Series sparked enthusiastic engagement for 102 high school students and 15 high school teachers last year. The new virtual workshop featured Morgridge scientists who illustrated their diverse paths leading to scientific careers.

Zooming in on a viral crown

The Rowe Center for Research in Virology generated near-atomic resolution images of a major viral protein complex responsible for replicating the RNA genome of a member of the positive strand RNA viruses — the large class of viruses that includes coronavirus and other pathogens.

How parasites evade our immune systems

Postdoctoral Fellow Jayhun Lee in the Phil Newmark Lab discovered how schistosomes, parasitic worms that infect more than 200 million people in tropical climates, use their esophageal gland to help survive the host’s immune defenses.

Scientists get ‘fearless’ in the face of the pandemic

The new Fearless Science Speaker Series features scientists and experts discussing innovative biomedical research. The free, open-to-all series debuted in 2020 and attracted hundreds of viewers across the state and nation.

Illuminating T cells to help stop cancer

T cells are the immune soldiers at the frontlines of the battle to infiltrate pathogens that seek to cause disease. The Melissa Skala Lab developed an imaging method to measure T cell activity by observing the natural autofluorescence. The method could help assess T cell involvement in cancer treatments or other immunotherapies.

New national imaging center could transform medicine

A national research initiative places the University of Wisconsin–Madison at the forefront of a revolution in imaging fostered by cryo-electron microscopy and cryo-electron tomography — technologies that can illuminate life at the atomic scale. The NIH grant is providing $22.7 million to create a national research and training hub.

Thomson Lab looks to make major health impact with artery engineering project

Stem cell pioneer James Thomson is leading a potentially transformational project to develop a safe and functional cell-based artificial artery that could be pulled from medical inventories and used by vascular surgeons.

Online Field Trips bring science to the state

For more than ten years, the Field Trip Program has brought students and teachers to Madison for a day of activity and exploration. But when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered on-campus activity, the Discovery Outreach Team had to get creative.

Beyond Fun: Discovery Outreach strengthening bond between science, society

The Discovery Outreach team is growing an iceberg. The visible part above the water is made up of the tens of thousands of people of all ages who participate in programs each year. And the mass below the surface contains hundreds of Wisconsin scientists, researchers and experts who are adding their voice to science engagement.

Science for All

When you establish a planned gift, you help inspire the next generation of scientists. Planned gifts through an estate or annuities help support science education and outreach activities, like the Summer Science Camp.

Contact Bill Swisher, Chief Development Officer, today.
(608) 316-4364