Collaborative Activity

The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, known as the Discovery Building, provides a space for hypercollaborative activity to occur and leverages the breadth of the university, pairing it with the nimbleness and strength of a private medical research organization.


Specifically Designed

Everything about the building is designed for collaboration, community and interaction. It encourages the people working and visiting here to bump into each other and share ideas. It is strategically located in the heart of campus, closely connected to the university’s core academic centers. A robust science outreach program offers opportunities for visitors young and old to experience the vibrancy of UW–Madison science and reaches tens of thousands of community members annually.

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Atrium full of people

Two Research Institutes, One Common Goal

The Discovery Building refers to the facility itself. It houses two research institutes: the private Morgridge Institute for Research and the public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, also known as WID. It also houses a public space called the Town Center, managed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), which manages and operates the building on behalf of all tenants. The two research institutes share a common goal of supporting forward-thinking experimentation by exploring fundamental questions across many disciplines and inspiring new generations of scientific thinkers.


Opened in 2010, the building has been recognized as best in class in several ways. It garnered LEED gold certification for its successful integration of energy- and water-saving systems and its reliance on smart features to automatically trigger energy- saving practices. R&D Magazine in 2012 named the building “Lab of the Year,” an international award bestowed on only one laboratory each year.

Penrose tiling
From the Ground Up

History & Background

In 2004, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle proposed the formation of a university biotechnology center to strengthen the state's position in science and technology and revitalize the economy with new jobs and investments.


That same year, John Morgridge and his wife Tashia approached WARF managing director Carl Gulbrandsen with a proposal to form a nonprofit research institute attached to the UW–Madison campus.

The Morgridges hoped to bring to Madison the same groundbreaking level of interdisciplinary research that the Bio-X Program, located in the Clark Center at Stanford, had brought to Palo Alto, Calif. After a period of public debate and project development, they persuaded the Governor to bring their two projects together under one roof as the public-private Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery partnership. With support from campus and the community, the Morgridges and WARF, construction on the Discovery Building began in 2008, and it opened to the public in 2010.
A Generous Gift

Our Donors

A generous gift from UW–Madison alumni John and Tashia Morgridge started the project. The state of Wisconsin and WARF also contributed initial funding. Two-thirds of the building is privately owned by WARF and the other third is publicly owned by UW–Madison.


John and Tashia Morgridge


John Morgridge

John Morgridge earned a bachelor’s degree from the UW–Madison School of Business, and a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University. He was honored in 1991 as a distinguished business alumnus and received an honorary doctorate degree from UW–Madison in 1994. He has served on the School of Business Board of Visitors and as an adviser to the business schools at both UW–Madison and Stanford University, where he has served on the Board of Trustees. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. In addition, he has received honorary degrees from Lesley College and Northern Illinois University.


Tashia Morgridge

Tashia Morgridge earned her bachelor’s degree from the UW–Madison School of Education and in 1975, she received a master’s degree in education from Lesley College in Massachusetts. She is now retired as a special-education teacher and works as a volunteer teacher for the learning disabled. She serves on several boards, including the School of Education’s Board of Visitors, and is a past member of the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board of Directors.



Our Research