As a young boy in 1949, I. Wistar Morris, III made his first donation to Lankenau Medical Center, beginning what would become a lifetime commitment to philanthropic leadership in the fields of science, medicine and technology.
As a teenager in 1959, Morris experienced scientific work firsthand when he took a summer job as a research assistant at the Lankenau Hospital Research Institute, now called LIMR. He worked directly with three Mennonite teenagers who, as an alternative to military service, volunteered for a special research project at the institute. The project, funded by NASA, involved studying the effects of space on the body. In order to simulate a decrease in gravity, the young men spent three months on bed rest, during which time Mr. Morris helped track data such as heart rate, blood pressure, and calcium levels.
“It was during this experience that I began to understand the power of research—every new discovery influences our understanding of the world and, indeed, can change the world,” he said.
Mr. Morris earned a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He pursued a career in finance, ultimately becoming one of the most respected investors in the Philadelphia region. His professional aspirations yielded several successful ventures, culminating in the establishment of Morris Investment Management, which merged with Pennsylvania Trust Company. All the while, medicine and science remained a strong interest for Mr. Morris. In 1992, he and his wife, Martha Hamilton Morris, established the Cotswold Foundation, focusing on medical and scientific research. Since its inception, the Cotswold Foundation has generously supported several biomedical institutes across the country, including several research projects at LIMR. Mr. Morris currently serves on the board of trustees for both LIMR and Lankenau Medical Center Foundation.
Recently, Mr. and Mrs. Morris changed the focus of their philanthropy from general support of an institution to support for research focused on specific projects. An example is their recent gift to support the groundbreaking work of Charles Antzelevitch, PhD, the newest member of LIMR’s scientific faculty and one of the nation’s most preeminent cardiac electrophysiology researchers.
“At the core of scientific research is the unending promise of lifesaving discovery,” said Mr. Morris. “By building on the work of their predecessors and peers, scientists like Dr. Antzelevitch are inspired by the possibility that their work in the laboratory can translate to lifesaving treatment at the bedside. I am humbled by the passion, curiosity, and intense focus of these researchers, who work so tirelessly to provide hope for so many. This is why I support LIMR.”
It has been nearly 6 decades since Mr. Morris made his first gift to Lankenau. Although it was his smallest, it is by no means the least important.
“In my top dresser drawer, I still have the letter sent to me and signed by Alfred Putnam, the hospital president at the time,” said Mr. Morris. “My connection to Lankenau and LIMR started at a young age, and it’s a commitment that has only grown stronger along with the continued progress of the Lankenau community.”