Elevating the Scientific Community
“Being at the Salk Institute was an extraordinarily formative time of my career,” says John Morrison, PhD, an Alzheimer’s disease researcher and a Salk alumnus.
Morrison trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the world-renowned lab of Salk Professor Floyd Bloom from 1980 to 1982 and then worked as a senior research associate in the A.V. Davis Center for Behavioral Neurobiology at Salk until 1983.
“Floyd was one of the preeminent neurobiologists of that time, so it was a really energetic and exciting lab to be working in,” Morrison says. He was in awe of being on a campus with several Nobel laureates and other luminaries, including Francis Crick, who shared Morrison’s interest in the organization of the neocortex.
“I ate lunch with Francis several times a week,” Morrison says. “You couldn’t do that anywhere else in the world.”
In 1983, Morrison took a position as an assistant professor in the division of preclinical neuroscience and endocrinology at Scripps Research, where he stayed until 1989. He then spent 26 years at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. During that time, Crick—then president of the Salk Institute—offered Morrison a position as an adjunct professor at Salk, in which he served from 1995 to 2009, traveling to the Institute two to three times a year. Morrison now serves as a professor of neurology and the director of the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) at UC Davis, positions he has held since 2015.
“Philanthropy is incredibly important to recruit the best faculty, get the best resources, start new programs and add value to the scientific community.”
Morrison, who lives in Woodland, California, with his wife, credits the fond memories of his time at Salk as the motivation for his desire to give to the Institute. He became a founding donor to Salk’s Alumni-Faculty Fellowship Fund in 2011 and has consistently contributed to the fund every year since. The Alumni Fund supports the Alumni-Faculty Fellowship, awarded to a gifted postdoctoral researcher every year. Qingqing Xie, in Wolfgang Busch’s Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Lab, was the recipient of the award in 2019.
Morrison values the versatility that donating to the Alumni Fund affords the Institute.
“If you’re going to give to an institution, they should have the freedom to use it as they see fit,” he says. “Philanthropy is incredibly important to recruit the best faculty, get the best resources, start new programs and add value to the scientific community.”
Morrison has a deep appreciation for Salk’s successes, past and present. He says he’s inspired by many of the Institute’s initiatives, specifically the work being done in neurogenetics, Alzheimer’s, endocrinology and cancer research.
“I think Salk is still one of the strongest research facilities in the world,” he says.
Morrison hopes his support encourages other Salk alumni to join him in supporting the Alumni Fund.
“I knew when I was at Salk that I was living through a magical time,” Morrison says. “It was unbelievable to be a postdoc there. Pound for pound, the Salk was the best place to be in the world, and that hasn’t changed.”