Annual Report – 2022 – Morgridge Institute for Research

Partnerships built on a shared vision

At the Morgridge Institute, we believe in Fearless Science. This means that we are willing to take risks and push the envelope. We strive for science that we cannot currently imagine.

As an independent institute, we have the freedom to act quickly and decisively, to follow interesting and important questions wherever they lead – especially when they lead into uncharted territory. But we are unique in that we have the best of both worlds. We are closely associated with one of the world’s leading public research universities and work strategically with the biomedical research community at UW-Madison.

What are the elements that make this model work?

Our benefactors, John and Tashia Morgridge, have been far-sighted and specifically built a component into our foundation that allows us to invest in new initiatives. But we are not just another source of funding on campus. We evaluate new ideas in light of our own programs, with a decision-making process for participation.

We have a focused mission and are committed to the importance of curiosity-driven research. We do not try to cover the entire waterfront. We have specific themes, meaning we say no to some projects, and our colleagues on campus understand that. They also recognize that we have chosen fundamental areas that intersect with a wide range of biomedical research.

We also exist in a unique culture. The Wisconsin process is different from many other places where policy and direction are often determined from the top down. People here form coalitions to launch new ideas, and that’s a good thing. It may take longer, but it generates strong grassroots support.

Brad Schwartz

Brad Schwartz

These are more than coalitions or collaborations; they are real partnerships. We put a little bit of ourselves at risk. In a partnership it takes a tremendous amount of trust, a willingness to take the same risk, with the will to make things work or fail towards a common goal. We really have each other’s backs.

On the following pages you will see highlights of how this works in practice.

  • Our mass spectrometry team has extended their curiosity to cancer research.
  • We support the technology and talent that helped build a leading center for cryo-EM technology.
  • Modeled after the stem cell community we co-founded, the Campus Metabolism Initiative draws from nearly two dozen scientific disciplines.
  • Our research computing team has helped more scientists derive value from data-intensive research and has helped expand research computing campus-wide.
  • We combine research and practice of scientific engagement to better understand how public debate about science can be depolarized.

All of these partnerships thrive because they are built on trust, transparency, and a shared vision. We believe they will unleash the best ideas to advance our knowledge of human health.


Brad Schwartz
CEO, Morgridge Institute for Research